The breeze dances with tall grass that tickles the soles of your bare feet. Above you, a cloud takes the form of a whale, a running dog, and then dissipates into endless blue. The sun warms your face. The soft winds steadily become gusts, but blow in a different direction. Your vision follows the wind, and falls on a colossal tree nearby. You walk toward it, and feel a raindrop sprinkle your nose. You take shelter under the tree’s canopy, and listen . . .
I have a soft spot for americana. The genre invokes picturesque landscapes, and tends to carry warmth that radiates like pastures in early afternoon. It’s a style that hardly needs innovation, but there are a select few artists searching for fresh genius within the sound. Cautionary Tale is the newest full-length from Louisiana-native, singer-songwriter Dylan LeBlanc, and his first since returning to his childhood home of Muscle Shoals, AL.
The traditional elements of americana — glistening pedal steel guitar, twinkles of piano, expressive acoustic guitar — are at the core of these songs, but LeBlanc adds unique flourishes with his floaty, soulful voice and classical string sections that enhance the depth of the compositions. These tracks sound pristine from start to finish, and the artist’s carefully controlled performances result in seemingly effortless beauty.
Look closer, though, and you’ll see that the sun shines on the surface alone. LeBlanc’s words are filled with woe, but are communicated in a voice that has conquered the woe. This is exactly what makes americana so great: artists that possess the masterful ability to package sorrow in containers that glow like a sunrise. There is no shortage, and no superfluity. If you’re seeking soulful, classically-tinged americana, this album is for you.
– stasi (@stasisphere)