Dylan LeBlanc - Cautionary Tale - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Dylan LeBlanc - Cautionary Tale

by Steve Ricciutti Rating:5 Release Date:2016-01-20

Louisiana’s Dylan LeBlanc has been in the business of music since he was 15, having been schooled in Muscle Shoals while watching his dad and others work their craft. On the verge of breaking through, he balked and sunk himself into a bottle. His third album, Cautionary Tale, is his attempt to get back on the horse and, as such, is often sulky and depressing, with LeBlanc covering well-worn themes of broken hearts and societal disenfranchisement.

Dylan LeBlanc’s singing and songwriting hark back to the laidback sound of Southern California in the heyday of the 70s, when pop and country gave birth to a new, mellow, and often divisive sound. In short: The Eagles. As many of those SoCal musicians soon discovered, however, repetitive elements of world-weariness, painful earnestness, and hit-and-miss cleverness set to acoustic guitars sometimes add up to little more than tepid clichés with a pedal steel whine.

There are moments that work such as “Easy Way Out,” “I’m Moving On,” “Roll the Dice,” and the title track. On the other hand, there are songs that succumb to too much self-indulgence (“Behind the Veil”), while others melt together, lacking anything that makes them stand out. Perhaps the lack of variety is a big part of my issue with “Cautionary Tale.” Even The Eagles were smart enough to eventually bring in Joe Walsh for some edge and profoundly absent sense of humor, both things in short supply here as well. Just the same, thanks to some production help from members of Alabama Shakes, this is a rich and polished record.

The zenith of this plaintive effort is the tenth and final number “Paradise.”  Relying on a sparse, fingerpicked, old school folk acoustic guitar style and possessing lyrics that are hopeful yet bittersweet; “Paradise is a lonely place in the here and now,” it’s a Gram Parsons-esque finale that I only wish was in more evidence across the rest of the disc. 

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