Yvette Landry Adds a Louisiana Flavor to Classic Country

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Yvette Landry‘s Me & T-Coe’s Country backs country classics (“Cold, Cold Heart”) with compelling original tunes (“Together, Forever”). The Lafayette, Louisiana, singer spoke with CMT Edge about song interpretation, her home state and how both shaped the excellent new collection.

“Even if you’re not aware of it, Louisiana just sort of seeps into the music throughout,” Landry explains. “It will come out when you try to perform or when you try to do whatever it is that you wanna do without even knowing. Our culture is just incredible over here.”

CMT Edge: Describe how the new album took shape.

Landry: I have a full band that I play and travel with regularly, but I also do this two-piece thing with my steel guitar player [Richard Comeaux]. We’ve been doing it locally for a little over a year now. People were asking if we had anything recorded with just the two of us.

We said, “You know, we really ought to go in the studio and put together the songs that we like and that the people ask for when we play, and that’ll be our calling card.” I said, “I’ll tell you what, you go home and you make a list of songs that you wanna do, and I’ll go home and I’ll make a list of songs that I wanna do.” Our lists were identical.

Explain the song selection process for the covers.

There are a few that we do all the time. We get requests a lot for songs like “Hey Good Lookin’” and “Tennessee Waltz,” my mom’s favorite. There’s also more obscure stuff like that Patsy Cline song, which was the first song that she ever recorded, “A Church, a Courtroom and Then Goodbye.” That’s one of my favorites. We don’t do it that often, but every once in a while when I feel it, we kind of belt that one out. There’s that song Dolly Parton sings, “Try Being Lonely,” which we don’t do that often, either. I wanted to pull that one in because I just thought it would fit.

Were you intimidated to interpret a song as well-known as “Cold, Cold Heart”?

You know, I don’t really think about it like that. If you don’t feel a song — if it’s not inside of you — it can be intimidating to sing, but I feel that one all the way down to my toes. So I wasn’t trying to sing like Hank or anybody else who’s recorded it. I just tried to make it my own. I sang what I could hear in my head and what I felt in my heart, and that’s what came out.

To me, it’s not intimidating when it’s like that. It is when somebody comes and says, “Oh, could you do this song?” When I try and do something that I don’t normally do that I don’t really have a connection with, then it’s intimidating.

Describe what makes a country song great.  

I think that it’s a connection that I feel. I mean, there are a lot of great songs out there that I really enjoy listening to, but I just don’t have that connection to it. I don’t feel like I can really put in all my emotions. It’s amazing when you think about how the majority of the country songs have two or three chords in them — and how there’s this thing that they’re all different.

There’s something about a great song that I can’t quite put my finger on, other than it moves me to want to perform that song. I wish I could tell you straight up, “Oh, it’s this or it’s this or it’s minor chords.” … It just grabs me on the inside and makes me want to sing it.

Tell the story behind writing “Together Forever.”

“Together Forever” was written for this guy that I’m dating right now. I read somewhere the other day that if you date a musician, you can be sure you’re gonna be written about in some way, shape or form. (laughs) Most of my songs written before ended in death or burning houses or something like that, but this one just came to me. That’s how most of my songs come. I don’t really just sit down and say, “OK, today I’m gonna write a love song.”

Explain how living in Louisiana generally shapes you as a singer and songwriter.

Oh, my goodness! That’s a mouthful. You know, I started playing music 10 years ago, playing bass guitar in a Cajun band. It’s slowly brought me to where I am today, but before that time, I hadn’t really traveled outside my area. I assumed everywhere was like over here, which means somebody’s always cooking, there’s always a dance going on, there’s always a band that’s playing. People are friendly. It’s a huge sense of community. I think that has a tremendous influence in what we do. We’ve got a lot of influences from the Cajun music, country music, blues music. I mean, you name it.

How did “Memories of Clelia” come to you?

I was cooking supper for my son, browning some meat on the stove, and all of the sudden, I went, “I’ve gotta get my guitar!” I had been mulling over this idea of a dusty Bible, but I didn’t really have a plan for it. I just thought that would be something really cool to incorporate in a song. So I went into my room to mess around a little bit, and 30 minutes later, my house is almost on fire! Smoke alarms are going off, but I had this wonderful song about this little girl who was dying. And I don’t know where it came from but it just — whoop! — came out. (laughs)

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