With Au Cabaret Sauvage, Lo' Jo hones and expands the sound of their last two albums. The familiar elements are all in evidence -- the rough, Serge Gainsbourg tones of lead vocalist Denis Péan, the melodious Maghrebi harmonies of the El Nourid sisters, and the lush gypsy flourishes of violin. But now those form the building blocks as they become more daring, as on "L'Une des Siens," with its bass-heavy dub underpinning; "Tangito," which casts an eye toward Latin America; or "Le 'Poeme de Japonais'," which merges Asian and African cultures with a curious tension that's ultimately very satisfying, if somewhat strange. Throughout the album, Péan's lyrics are poetic, sometimes sardonic, but always hopeful, and the band urges them along. The rhythm section has become wonderfully elastic, wrapping around the melodies, while violinist Richard Bourreau continues to be outstanding, especially on the neo-classical "Bougnoule." A fine advance on what they've already achieved and a firm stepping stone for the future. ~ Chris Nickson, Rovi

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