Here’s the second album by the young, Muscle Shoals-bred singer-songwriter who made such a positive impression with his 2010 debut, Pauper’s Field. Now, at the ripe old age of 22, LeBlanc returns with another collection of mournful Southern-gothic songs.
The young LeBlanc (his daddy is Muscle Shoals session vet James LeBlanc) has been compared with the likes of Neil Young and Townes Van Zandt…pretty heavy company to live up to. But the first song on Cast The Same Old Shadow proves that he might be up to the challenge. The song, titled Part One: The End, was apparently inspired by a dream. That woozy, atmospheric vibe is captured perfectly in the pedal steel guitar, organ, twang-filled electric guitar and echo-drenched voice that LeBlanc and his co-producer and engineer Trina Shoemaker have cloaked the lyrics in. Subject-wise, LeBlanc sings about loss of innocence and maturity. The song is beautiful and the track is gorgeous…it is not doubt the best thing the young artist has produced yet.
The next few tracks follow suit. Brother briefly lifts off into a Southern Man-style jam and Innocent Sinner features at English folk-ish melody shot through with country soul and some beautiful pedal steel playing by Wayne Bridge.
But as the album progresses, the returns are less rewarding. Part of the problem is the same-ness to all of Dylan’s songs…they are very downbeat… some seem to move at a snail’s pace. Over the course of 10 tracks, that can get a bit over-bearing.
The production doesn’t help. The echo on LeBlanc’s voice works some times, but it also creates an emotional barrier between the singer and the listener. Perhaps it’s a matter of confidence, but I’d like to hear the REAL Dylan LeBlanc at some point.
No doubt there are many wonderful moments to be found here, but at this point, Dylan LeBlanc has to think about widening his musical view. Perhaps moving to a different studio or working with different musicians and producers will help…the personnel here is essentially the same as his first album.
There’s plenty of potential in LeBlanc’s words and music, he just has to develop it more fully.
Click here to listen to The End: Part One from Cast The Same Old Shadow: