Spinning on the bourbonhours juke right now is Dylan Leblanc’s Paupers Field, the debut release from the 20 year old Shreveport Louisiana native. Initial reactions are very positive: the music is low and slow, the lyrics seem engaging, and the sound is sparse and mature beyond the artist’s meagre years. Listed influences include Towne’s Van Zandt and Neil Young and you can definitely see these gigantic figures peering over the music in the background; my short listen would also include the Great Lake Swimmers in the mix.
Apparently there is some pedigree for the young man to draw on. His father was a session player and songwriter at the famous Muscle Shoals studio in Alabama. He was playing guitar and writing songs as a pre-teen and learning from the pros such as Spooner Oldham as he did so.
The music on this album has a strong twang feel to it served up courtesy generous helpings of pedal steel and the young vocalists hi-i’m-lonesome style. One of the things that caught my attention prior to my purchase of the album was the fact that Emmy Lou Harris, the patron saint of alt-country, does backing vocals on one song, “If the Creek Don’t Rise”. Emmy Lou doesn’t sing backing vocals for assholes.
This ain’t no review – just some initial thoughts. It’s one thing to list Townes Van Zandt as an influence, it’s another thing to make an attempt in his direction. For someone who’s only 20 years old, the attempt could easily fall flat, or even worse, be buried underneath its own pretension. This album doesn’t fall flat. I’ll be curious to see where this career goes.