Though Dylan LeBlanc is barely of legal age, his debut album, Pauper’s Field, is a mature blend of steel guitar-laden Americana and mandolin folk. LeBlanc’s voice, which has a Ray LaMontagne-like quality to it, sounds like a man who had experienced decades of love and heartbreak before drinking his troubles away at a Southern bar.
There is no question of LeBlanc’s technical merit as a musician, but there is a certain sincerity that he brings to his songwriting that is very striking. He sounds like an old soul that would remember the blues and folk as contemporaries rather than as classics, channeling his peers rather than influences. Indeed, having grown up around session musicians, music is clearly as important to his existence as the Louisiana landscape that populates his songs with lonely creeks and rainy nights.
Despite the darkness in so many of LeBlanc’s songs, there are a few moments of hope that pop up now and then. “You can drown beneath the surface, so keep your head up” is a key lesson from the song “If the Creek Don’t Rise.” Featuring backing vocals from Emmylou Harris, this track alone is reason to invest in LeBlanc’s album.
If this first recording of his is any indication of the path his career will take, then I have no doubt his name will be one that graces many big marquees.