It hasn’t been the easiest few years for Louisiana native, and distinctly melancholy folk singer, Dylan LeBlanc. After releasing two albums during his early twenties in quick succession and to high praise, LeBlanc endured a crisis of confidence that ultimately lead to a premature spate of alcohol driven self destruction and exhaustion. Thankfully, having returned home and recovered from this temporary damaging spell, LeBlanc has recently released his third album Cautionary Tale.
Produced by John Paul White (Civil Wars) and long-time friend Ben Tanner (Alabama Shakes), Cautionary Tale is warm yet uncluttered, with well-rounded textures that allow LeBlanc’s smoky vocal space to resonate in such a way that to his own admission ‘prevented me from burying my words’.
While this stripped back aesthetic reveals some special moments, ultimately the record borrows from it’s namesake and certainly feels as though it errs on the side of caution. It doesn’t feel as though a journey is being made across the record, with songs rolling into one another for a perfectly pleasurable and easy listening experience, but one that doesn’t fully engage enough to warrant all your attention.
For LeBlanc nonetheless, creating this record in itself is a considerable personal achievement and one that is not without pretty instances which reveal why he first grabbed the attention of Bruce Springsteen and toured with the likes of George Ezra just a few months ago. Lighting And Thunder, for instance, is achingly beautiful and complimented by a gentle brush of strings, set just after Beyond The Veil which stands out as the most striking and richly layered track and which together pull the record to it’s peak before ultimately fading out.
Cautionary Tale closes on optimistically named Paradise, in which LeBlanc sings of meeting his love in the afterlife, where ‘paradise is the only place in the here and now’ – simple, shimmering and soulful,and perhaps this twinkling country footnote is the precursor to happier and more hopeful times for this talented young musician.