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Paupers Field

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Album Review

Dylan LeBlanc's Rough Trade debut aches with the kind world-weary angst and faux-wisdom that serves as the foundation for countless other confessional singer/songwriters. That the Louisiana native is only 20 years old will have some crying foul, but this son of a Muscle Shoals session player has grown up watching his mentors exorcize their demons through music, so why shouldn’t he? Paupers Field, a 12-track collection of slow, soulful country-folk, falls somewhere between Nick Drake, Jason Molina, Kelly Joe Phelps and Fleet Foxes. LeBlanc’s smoky, emotive voice carries with it the reluctant ardor of his southern homeland, and his tales of love, life, loss and death feel real enough, if not duly informed by a lot of late nights nursing a pilfered bottle of bourbon over a stack of Neil Young and Townes Van Zandt records. It’s hard to deny the thick fog of finger-picked, '70s soft rock that hangs over Paupers Field, but standout cuts — like the weepy “Emma Hartley,” “Low,” “Death of Outlaw Billy John,” and “If the Creek Don’t Rise,” the latter of which features effortless harmony vocals from none other than Emmylou Harris — show a great deal of promise, especially when this old soul, saddled with the weight of a young man’s preconceptions, finds those ideals both met and shattered.

Customer Reviews

A promising start

A lot of potential. Some of the songs are brilliant (Tuesday Night Rain, If The Creek Don't Rise) but some feel a little weak to me. However it is clear his songwriting ability is exceptional and despite his youth, his interesting back story translates into moving and believeable songs. He displays a great understanding of space and build up in his songs, and his voice has a great weary but soulful quality. I will find out in a few weeks whether he can perform the songs live as well as he does on record.

Very good debut

I'm fascinated by musicians who can pour out this many good songs at such a tender age. 20 year old Dylan LeBlanc is one man to pick up the mantle from the now ageing 25 year old Zach Condon (of Beirut). Where has Dylan got that 40-cigarettes-a-day tone from? How do either have enough life experiences to write an album full of songs about the kind of problems that afflict singer-songwriters (and the rest of us)?

In Dylan's case, I think it's largely imagined. There are too many stories of sadness and pain-soothing whiskey for it to be believable, and that, for me, takes some of the edge off what is still a fine record.

It's not an album of end-to-end classics, but there are more than enough for it to be worthy of your time if you have an interest in alt-country and Americana. My particular favourites are different to the previous reviewer's: the slide-guitar driven opener, Low, and the most heartbreaking track on the album, Emma Hartley.

Very good

Whether or not he's had the experiences that he writes about, it's undeniable that Dylan leBlanc can write great songs about universal experiences of loss, pain and regret, because this record is full of them. 'Low' is a wonderful opening to the record, showcasing leBlanc's songwriting talent and the voice that sounds as though it belongs to someone much older than twenty years old. 'If the Creek Don't Rise' is magical and intensely painful, and 'Emma Hartley' is gorgeous, with a beautiful strings accompaniment to leBlanc's fingerpicking.


Born: 1990 in Shreveport, LA

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '10s

Shreveport, Louisiana native Dylan LeBlanc spent his formative years surrounded by some of the region's finest musicians (his father, singer/songwriter/guitarist James LeBlanc, is a longtime Muscle Shoals session player). Dylan began writing his own songs at eleven, and by his late teens, had developed a soulful, bluesy voice and guitar style that resonated with the sights and sounds of his musical youth. He released Paupers Field, his smoky, languid Townes Van Zandt- and Fleet Foxes-inspired...
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Paupers Field, Dylan LeBlanc
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Customer Ratings