Dylan LeBlanc – Renegade
Louisiana troubadour Dylan LeBlanc takes the streamlined approach to swimming the mainstream on star-shooting fourth album Renegade
When an album arrives with the four words 'Produced by Dave Cobb' stamped on it, you know what's coming. If the Nashville hitmaker is behind the desk, you can bet your cowboy hat that the artist concerned is interested in swimming the mainstream. The producer behind recent breakthroughs from Americana heroes such as Jason Isbell, Brandi Carlile and Chris Stapleton is much in demand for his polished approach to record making, and a Rick Rubin-esque ability to find gold in the hills of songwriters wanting to burst through the glass ceiling.
Dylan LeBlanc's last album – 2016's languid, lazy and lovely Neil Young-lilting Cautionary Tale – nearly achieved such status for the Shreveport, Louisiana singer, but the sounds on offer across Renegade's ten tracks suggest it's going to happen now, no matter the resistance. Lone Rider, Born Again and the title track are all widescreen rattle'n'rollers that demand you wind down your window and let the wind blow back your hair.
Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty are the touchstones here and it's a jumping off point that suits LeBlanc's lonesome and languid laments perfectly. 'I'm just a lone rider / Riding high across the plains' is a lyric that could make you roll your eyes, unless it's accompanied by the gorgeous Rolling Thunder-esque gait it's given here and offers listeners the chance of making a movie in their minds.
There's a Paris, Texas feel to much of the music on offer here, but LeBlanc and super-producer Cobb have also moved from the ditch to the middle of the road for some driving rock sounds not heard since Ryan Adams last put his head above the parapet. And if there's an Adams-shaped hole in the Americana landscape at the moment, we may have just found the man to take his place.
Listen to: Renegade, Lone Rider, Honor Among Thieves