Watching Louisiana good ol’ boy Marc Broussard play through a set (mostly pulled from his current Island disc “Carencro”), it seems the term “blue-eyed soul” was coined just for him. He has the confident, charming swagger of an about-to-party frat boy and the smile of one in the midst of a sorority raid; his music, unsurprisingly, is full of romantic but cliche words like “soul,” “heart” and “love.” Sometimes those get overbearing, but only when Broussard gets lazy with his voice, which he uses for the kind of searing singing rarely heard since the late ’70s.
Despite a respectful cover (with opener Toby Lightman) of “If I Could Build My Whole World Around You,” he openly admits he’s no Marvin Gaye. Instead, he may be the current generation’s Joe Cocker, albeit one who usually sings his own songs instead of reinterpreting someone else’s.
Those songs are hit-and-miss, though in this performance he chose to play far more of the hits than the misses. Those include the sultry, Hammond-fueled “Lonely Night in Georgia” and the barnstomp “Home,” amid other sexed-up, slow-burn ballads.
Broussard loses his way when he follows the path of contemporaries like Dave Matthews and John Mayer in pop arrangements that force him to hold back his overly impressive growl (though “Rocksteady,” one of those throwaways on the album, was properly rearranged into a scorcher). While he’s got a knack for a hook, when he forgets the gift of his voice he’s left meandering — which, unfortunately, on the solo-acoustic encore “Gavin’s Song,” drew more attention to his lyrics than they deserved.
Broussard’s got more than promise, though, and he seems to know it. His band is aces, and when they force him to keep up — through call-and-response soloing, or John Ginty’s expressive keys — Broussard lets loose a torrent of howling that’s knee-shattering. While Matthews is hurt by horns, the addition of a sax-and-trumpet section could give Broussard the equivalent of an updated R&B revival, and the push he needs to get out of his comfort zone and into the hearts (and pants) of the numerous sorority girls who are already swooning.