The singer-songwriter’s third album finds him back home and contemplating the trials and tribulations of his young life to date
After two albums, and at just 23-years-old, singer-songwriter Dylan LeBlanc “slipped into a blur of booze and self-doubt”. In order to recover, and to rebuild his life, he returned home to Muscle Shoals, Alabama and found himself inspired enough to write a new record. Over a familiar backdrop of country, blues and gentle Americana, the fittingly named Cautionary Tale chronicles his trials and tribulations.
The shuffling country of the title track gets things started and finds LeBlanc in fine voice from the start, with a ghostly timbre reminiscent of My Morning Jacket’s Jim James. There is a sense of a man taking stock and looking back over what went wrong. It’s there on songs such as the wistful Man Like Me, on which he croons about giving in to earthly pleasures. These regrets imbue the record with a subtle sadness, which is turned into strength by the time I’m Moving On provides LeBlanc with a fitting mantra.
Much of Cautionary Tale’s strength comes from its intimate instrumentation, which brings a layer of maturity to proceedings. On both Roll The Dice and Beyond The Veil they actively distract the listener from some slightly clichéd subject matter, with the extended fadeout on the latter being a high point. The interplay between guitar and strings on Lightning And Thunder provides another standout moment.
Though not without fault, Cautionary Tale succeeds in bringing closure to a painful period in LeBlanc’s life and does so over an appealing assortment of well-crafted tunes.
Verdict: The sound of storms weathered