A Life Worth Living, the sixth studio album by Louisiana roots singer Marc Broussard, is his most personal project to date. No longer hiding behind ambiguity or his former label’s desire for performances targeted to Broussard’s demographics, this time Broussard opens up and creates a music mosaic straight from his soul.
Broussard’s earlier work is best characterized by his soulful vocals and a swampy Bayou flavor permeating the rootsy folk rock. The same holds true here, but on A Life Worth Living, his return to Vanguard Records after two albums with Atlantic, Broussard strips everything down to its emotional core. Broussard’s soulful vocals and honest storytelling are given greater emphasis, with his trademark blues, funk and soul flourishes only giving the narratives an extra punch.
“Hurricane Heart” kicks off the LP with its a bit of a false start. In the straightforward pop rock track, Broussard directs his angst toward a friend with whom he had a falling out. The next song, “Dying Man” has Broussard channeling his soulful funk stylings, his voice a throaty moan with a murky riff that can shake the leaves off a cypress.
Three tracks in, A Life Worth Living settles into an acoustic singer-songwriter groove that it mostly remains in thereafter. It is in those acoustic tracks that Broussard’s newfound introspection takes center stage. “Give ‘Em Hell” deals with the death of a friend. “What exactly would you say to me if you knew that I was having trouble coping with the questions your departure seems to leave?” Broussard asks. In response, Broussard imagines the comforting words of that friend trying to urge him to move on.
“Honesty” finds Broussard urging a lover to talk through their problems rather than avoiding confrontation, his voice a tearful tremolo as it trails off with the words “you say you need time.” “Another Day” is Broussard’s music at its most beautiful, a morose duet with Genevieve about the realization that a relationship isn’t working. “We’ll never know what’s in store if all we’re living for is another day,” Broussard and Bradley sing in a heartbreaking harmony.
If one song can exemplify A Life Worth Living, it’s “Man Ain’t Supposed to Cry.” It’s one of several songs to deal with relationship problems, but it also shows how the soulful nuances in Broussard’s music lifts him above many of his contemporaries. In lesser hands, the song is a simple folk strummer, but by combining a doo-wop rhythm with a vocal delivery that effortlessly conveys the blues without over-singing, Broussard gives the track added weight. It was always clear that Broussard was a gifted musician with a tremendous voice. With A Life Worth Living, Broussard for the first time shows that he also has some important issues to discuss.