Singer-songwriter Dylan LeBlanc's music sits somewhere between a blissful world of indie folk and a darker world full of his own personal demons. After two critically-acclaimed solo albums and walking away from a major label deal, LeBlanc began to struggle with drink and self-doubt. Thankfully, he returned home to Alabama and penned this beautifully haunting third album, 'Cautionary Tale'.
The album is filled with gorgeous melodies and LeBlanc's stunning vocals, but it's the sound of a man that has battled through a storm and come out the other side stronger. This album is his cautionary tale not just to others, but to himself, as he tells stories of past regrets and his struggle with drink. Behind every exquisite melody is the tale of a man trying to avoid slipping into old ways.
'Cautionary Tale', the stand-out opening track, sets the tone for the whole album. It's a beautifully written pop-folk song sitting somewhere between Ryan Adams and the Fleet Foxes, depicting a man who, despite his best efforts, is still repeating the same painful mistakes over and over. It's incredibly catchy and by far the most memorable track on the album; you'll find yourself going back to it time and time again.
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Paupers Field, the debut album from Louisiana-born twenty year-old Dylan LeBlanc, is a solid and knowing release of country-tinged American folk which evidences great experience and maturity, especially from one so young.
The country-folk blend which LeBlanc rapidly proves himself youthful master of is affirmed right from the albums' opening; 'Low' brings together picked acoustic guitar, brushed drums and gentle country twinges of pedal steel guitar over which LeBlanc's soothing whispered vocals sensitively meander. Suggesting LeBlanc as something of a countrified John Mayer, love song 'Low' announces his talent for writing beautiful soothing music. Interspersing melancholic down-temp numbers with occasional more driven tracks such as the banjo-ridden 'If Time Was For Wasting', which sounds resemblance to a more delicate cross between The Thrills and Mumford & Sons, Paupers Field ebbs and flows with great emotion and precision.
Comparisons with and influence of the likes of Conor Oberst (Bright Eyes), Ryan Adams and Neil Young ooze throughout the album in every guise, from the gentle and meaningful 6/8 ballads 'Tuesday Night Rain' and 'On With The Night', to the intricately picked guitar which accompanies LeBlanc's heartfelt vocal throughout 'Emma Hartley', 'Ain't Too Good At Losing' and 'Death Of Outlaw Billy John'. The familiar storytelling nature of his lyrics also harks back to his main influences and the bluesy-folk roots of LeBlanc's style; so too the instrumentation, in particular the near-constant sounding of country-folk pedal steel guitar twinges and plucked banjo maintaining evidence of inspiration heavily rooted in Americana.
Continue reading: Dylan LeBlanc, Paupers Field Album Review