Dylan LeBlanc – Cautionary Tale
Dylan LeBlanc is 25 years old. This is his third album. The first, Paupers Field, was a relatively rollicking sort of affair that wouldn’t have been out of place coming out of the speakers in a long cross-country drive in the early 1970s. By contrast, the second, Cast The Same Old Shadow, was a much more sombre and altogether less uplifting listen. Three years later, his new album provides perhaps a clue as to why. By his own admission, he went through some dark days around that time, alcohol seeming to play a major part. Now, he’s back with us again. He looks great. Sounds good. And has delivered a much more radio-friendly product than its predecessor. The main theme is inescapable. From the title track to songs to such as ‘I’m Moving On’, we’re never left in any doubt as to the upwardness of his trajectory. And that’s a good thing. Of course this isn’t the first redemption album ever to hit the shelves. Some chronicle the struggle itself. Think Split by The Groundhogs or, more recently, The Most Lamentable Tragedy by Titus Andronicus. Others reflect on the period of pain and are still marked by it, even if there’s a sense that things are progressing. Almost anything by Lucinda Williams comes into this category. And yet others still are fashioned by such great songwriters that you get to learn their story while singing along to all the fine melodies. Southeastern by Jason Isbell springs to mind in this regard. For its part, Cautionary Tale doesn’t fit into any of those categories. The songs are superbly crafted, carefully delivered, and easy on the ear. Very easy. And while that’s undoubtedly their greatest strength, it’s also perhaps their slight failing. It’s as if we have to take Dylan LeBlanc’s word that he went through a rough time, rather than actually experiencing it with him for 40-odd minutes at least. For sure, there are worse sins for an album to commit, but it means it’s not quite the classic it might have been. So, if you’re angry with the world and want to listen to something with the volume turned up to 11, then this is not the album for you. However, if you’ve just signed up to a 12-week course on mindfulness, then this is almost the perfect companion.