Dylan LeBlanc – Cautionary Tale
Released January 15th, 2016 on Single Lock Records
Dylan LeBlanc – son of a working Muscle Shoals musician and songwriter – had a career arc on the rise just two short years ago. After spending his youth around musicians and live music in the famed Alabama roots-rock haven, he signed with Rough Trade and put out two fairly well-received albums. Then exhaustion and problems with alcohol became too much to bear and he walked away from the Rough Trade deal and, seemingly, his career.
Thankfully an old bandmate of his is Ben Tanner, who now plays with Alabama Shakes. Tanner, in addition to John Paul White of The Civil Wars, helped him get back in the saddle and record his third album, Cautionary Tale. Like the title suggests, it’s a cycle of songs that help LeBlanc to exorcise the demons of the past and to try to cast about for a way forward. Unfortunately that way forward is more or less grounded in safety. There’s very little edge to these songs beyond the subject matter, and from a musical standpoint LeBlanc forges an utterly familiar set of roots-rockers that blend Neil Young and Ryan Adams until you can’t taste anything anymore. It’s a nice enough listen, but nice doesn’t go far enough in this sort of thing. If you’re telling me about your redemption from the excesses of your youth, I want some grit, some dirt; I don’t want agreeableness. Cautionary Tale is awash in agreeableness. It’s a good album, but it’s as far from great as the sun is from its nearest neighbour.