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Dylan LeBlanc: Pauper’s Field

C

Dylan LeBlanc

Album: Pauper’s Field
Label: Rough Trade

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The slow-spreading pedal steel and quietly tramping drums on Dylan LeBlanc’s first album, Pauper’s Field, set the pace for a pleasant country ramble, and at times threaten to reduce the songs to just that. The calm and focus is a refreshing counter to the hyperbole that accompanies a 20-year-old putting out his debut. The Louisiana songwriter reveals an ear for lyrical and melodic details, but still bets too much on understatement, as with his chronically under-enunciated vocals. This doesn’t ruin the balance of aches and friendly comforts on “Low” and “Tuesday Night Rain,” or the first swell of the choruses on “If The Creek Don’t Rise,” which features a grand harmony vocal from Emmylou Harris. LeBlanc’s accompanists do him a favor when they hang back a little and let him show off his patient way with a melody: “Death Of Outlaw Billy John” brings the swaying and drifting to a head-slappingly good close with little more than acoustic guitar and mandolin, one track from the album’s end. Though LeBlanc proves himself a likeable, subtly catchy songwriter, and the arrangements almost never dress him up too much, nearly all of Pauper’s Field slips by without giving him a clear introduction.