Monday, June 28, 2010

Rough Trade Signs Dylan LeBlanc

Judging by what we've heard, Rough Trade has landed another gem of an artist with Dylan LeBlanc. This Louisiana native who splits his time between his Shreveport home and Nashville, records with a full and warm sound, lacing each song with generous amounts of pedal steel and organ swells. Yet, it's LeBlanc's vocals that keep his music from falling into the everyday singer/songwriter bin. Falling somewhere between Neil Young and Robin Pecknold, there is a distinct southern flair to his delivery and that intangible quality that makes the melodies memorable. The 20 year old LeBlanc's debut album Pauper's Field comes out August 24 on Rough Trade. You can read Geoff Travis' compelling story behind LeBlanc's signing after the jump. Dylan LeBlanc plays Joe's Pub in New York July 21st.

Dylan LeBlanc came into my life quite by chance. A friend called Jon Tiven was visiting from Nashville. He was trying to interest me in a Souhern Rock Opera that he had written and recorded with a view to getting me to release it. It has some illustrious soul singers from yesteryear singing lead on some of the tracks. However I am pathologically averse to going back into the past, having flirted disastrously with this idea previously. The Sandie Shaw project instigated by Morrissey springs to mind, being in a hotel room with the lovely Roger McGuinn and having to tell him that the new songs he had just played me on his twelve string guitar were not actually my cup of tea, trying to convince Arthur Lee that David Roback should be producing his new record, when all he wanted to talk about was the fact that he had himself played every note on the early Love records, are just a few examples.

I was chatting to Jon and his partner Sally when they casually mentioned that they had recently seen a young man that had completely mesmerized them. They said he had a voice that fell somewhere between Ray La Montagne and Neil Young and that he was one of the best they had ever seen.

They were not his managers or his agents or his lawyers or his accountants. They just liked him as an artist. Now these two people are not just ordinary music folk. They count Steve Cropper amongst their best friends and they seem able to get Teenie Hodges, the sublime guitar player who adorns so many great Al Green records, on the phone. Something in me snapped to attention and I asked who this young man was that they were describing. They said he was called Dylan LeBlanc and he lives in or near Shreveport in Louisiana and they had seen him play in a small club in Nashville.

Dylan is now signed to Rough Trade and his story is just beginning. But like all stories of this kind, he has been preparing for it all his life. He was signed to Fame Music which is the publishing arm that grew out of the great Muscle Shoals recording complex. Rick Hall is it's head and you can find his name on the credits of some of the greatest records to ever come out of the American South. Wilson Pickett and Aretha Franklin amongst them. Rick signed Dylan to Fame Music. He was signed as soon as he was legally of age to do so. Part of the deal was that Dylan got access to the studio, where he recorded his debut album.

Pauper’s Field, which was mixed by Trina Shoemaker in Nashville in March of this year will be his first release. Dylan turned 20 years of age recently and he has been performing since he was 15 years old. Playing around the Louisiana area, often travelling by himself to play in a tiny bar hundreds of miles from home, learning his craft and trying out new songs - always writing and trying out new ideas and soaking up the rich culture of his southern homeland.

He sounds like he has lived several lives already and has the melancholy soul of a great Southern soul singer many times his age. In reality he is just a young man making his first steps into the world of music. A world he has had no choice but to participate in. It is in his blood and it is in his soul. I feel lucky to be able to help bring these songs to your attention.

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