What does it sound like?:
Dylan LeBlanc is a sensitive soul. He writes personal, evocative songs. His voice is sweet and gentle, almost feminine. He has his demons. His parents divorced when he was an infant. His father, James, moved to Nashville to pursue a career writing country songs, so little Dylan had two homes. He ended up in rehab before he finished high school. He has an open, trusting face, high cheekbones and long flowing locks. A good-looking sensitive musician with issues should be a big hit with the ladies but his early albums are bleak Southern Gothic, the kind that warns people to keep their distance.
Dave Cobb is a highly professional producer with a long cv ranging from Sturgill Simpson to Jason Isbell. You’d expect him to provide a slick ‘Nashville’ production for LeBlanc and his longstanding band, The Pollies, even though Renegade was recorded over just ten days. It is, indeed, nice and clean with smooth curved lines but the surprise is that there is barely a Country note in it. This album is mainly Power Pop but with the power turned down down to seven. Think of eighties radio music, such as Journey or Boston, uptempo, jolly toe-tappers with melodies, hooks and thick textures of guitars and keyboards, the bass and drums busying themselves politely in a corner. All the last four tracks are softer ballads, concluding with the most ‘Country’ song of all, Honor Among Thieves, a mood piece set to a lonesome acoustic guitar and a lush orchestra. Renegade is an album that slips down the ears very easily.
LeBlanc can write a tune with an affecting lyric but he does seem to be pitching in a different ball game to his previous album, the brooding, introspective Cautionary Tale. There is a sense that LeBlanc is attempting to make a leap into the mainstream and he’s doing it mostly with electric guitars. His voice is different enough to catch people’s attention if it crops up on the radio or on a playlist and his songs strong enough to hold their own. With Renegade, Dylan LeBlanc might well succeed.
What does it all *mean*?
It’s lovely to hear a young act relying on electric guitar as the lead instrument.
Goes well with…
Youthfulness. Mums and dads will be far from horrified by the sight or sound of Renegade. In fact, they may well be quite taken with it, but the target audience is a young one.
Might suit people who like…
Old-fashioned, radio-friendly Pop music.