Dylan LeBlanc - Cast The Same Old Shadow
- By James Thomasson -
- Aug 16, 2012
Coming off the back of his successful debut album ‘Paupers Field’ Dylan LeBlanc returns with ‘Cast The Same Old Shadow’. Despite much being written and recorded at the same time as his debut, ‘Cast The Same Old Shadow’ has a freshness of ideas that helps separate it as different, whilst still levelling with an honesty that reflects Dylan’s personal inner struggles.
Co-produced by both Dylan and the Grammy award-winning engineer Trina Shoemaker (Queens of the Stone Age, Sheryl Crowe, EmmyLou Harris) the first thing you notice is just how well produced and tightly mixed the record is. Dylan’s voice is always crisp and clear with every instrument playing a defined role in the music as opposed to just being thrown in for the sake of texture.
Dylan has always followed a mature approach to song-writing and this is reflected in his musical influences. Throughout the record there are frequent nods to the vocal and guitar influence of Neil Young, but also, somewhat surprisingly, the folk introspective styling of songwriters like John Martyn and George Harrison. At times the record also has the modernised leanings of artists such as Ryan Adams and Wilco. It all makes for a fairly eclectic record but one that never really leaves that easy listening country twang of Dylan’s pedal steel guitar.
The record begins with a wonderfully constructed three-hitter of ‘Part One: The End’, ‘Innocent Sinner’ and, by far a standout highlight, the wonderfully punchy ‘Brother’. The former most is an inspired piece of ethereal country pop which compliments guitar and keys to wonderful effect. Yet it is the latter, combining a Neil Young punchy rock guitar riff with a high tempo country beat that really has you reaching for that replay button.
From here on the record unfortunately loses much of its forward momentum getting bogged down in slower introspective tracks that come across a little contrived. ‘Diamonds and Pearls’ is a good example of this; being an old fashioned country ballad where Dylan describes a lover’s eyes as, well, you get the rest. It just all comes across a little bit twee. The same could be said for the two weakest tracks of the album: ‘Where Are You Now’ and ‘Cast The Same Old Shadow’. Both are pleasant enough to listen to in a quiet room but lack any real grit to really make you care for them. This is the very definition of background music which does Dylan a disservice.
It’s a shame really because his lyrics, throughout the record in general, are actually really good. Dylan has a very mature approach in his lyrical expressions that not many modern artists are able to grasp. There is a very introspective honesty to his words that you can’t help but admire; especially in a pop music age of so many lyrical trivialities.
Thankfully the momentum is ramped back up for the final third with songs like ‘The Ties That Bind’ and the brilliant ‘Comfort Me’ pulling you back from reaching for that stop button. Dylan has a knack for writing some fantastic high tempo songs when he’s in his Neil Young element.
These are perhaps the learning years for this talented country musician. Whilst perhaps not quite as eye-catching as his debut, ‘Cast The Same Old Shadow’ is still a wonderfully constructed album of well written country songs which should not be casually dismissed.
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