Minneapolis native Luke LeBlanc’s first single since the release of his lauded five song EP Time on My Hands, “Same Blues”, establishes an unlikely songwriting union. He lived for a brief time in Nashville, Music City U, S,A. but made important connections despite the short stay. One of those was with songwriter Roy August, co-writer of the Oak Ridge Boys’ first number one hit 1981’s “Fancy Free”. LeBlanc had no grand or greater designs for what he wanted to realize from this connection, but August surprised him after a bunch meeting when he shared a work in progress with LeBlanc and offered him co-writing credit if he could finish it. The result is “Same Blues”, a song well in keeping with LeBlanc’s Americana and folk music influences.
His pristine acoustic guitar work never sounds like a butterfly trapped under glass. Despite its obvious finesse, LeBlanc plays with genuine feeling and melodic skill. This obviously isn’t his first run through with the song, but this recording sparkles with well produced spontaneity instead of a feeling of the track being overworked. It has a freshness that never feels forced. The production clearly doesn’t have multiple elements to contend with, but nonetheless does an exceptional job of capturing the sensitivity of his guitar playing with tactile clarity.
He has a first class voice for this sort of material that covers many bases. It has strength and sensitivity, warmth and spot on musicality, and youthful energy coupled with surprising gravitas given his age. The production lets down his delivery somewhat; many will prefer a more straight forward recording of the vocal instead of dressing it up with post-production effects. He doesn’t go overboard, granted, but it some will hear the vocal sound burdened by needless affectation rather than focused on making direct connections with the listener.
The lyrics are cut to the bone and intelligent, but never attempt remaking the songwriting wheel. They have an economical focus throughout and rely on deceptively simple turns of phrase that, nonetheless, connect with listeners. They are crafted in such a way to facilitate the best possible phrasing from LeBlanc and he delivers throughout with low-key dramatics that elevate the lyric into the realm of performed poetry. It never feels stilted or clichéd.
LeBlanc began his musical journey by teaching himself guitar at age eleven and started writing his own words and music soon after. This sort of precocious development is the hallmark of a prodigy in the making and becoming the youngest recipient of the Zimmy award, a singer/songwriter competition based out of Bob Dylan’s hometown of Hibbing, Minnesota. He has opened for luminaries such as Badfinger’s Joey Molland, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, and The Rembrandts’ Phil Solem and scored plum slots like playing South by Southwest in 2017. His latest single “Same Blues” is an unabashed success by any measure and continues expanding the promise he has shown since first emerging on the scene. Luke LeBlanc isn’t going away anytime soon and will build on his success with future efforts.