TIME ON MY HANDS REVIEWS
Review by Gary Hill, Music Street Journal, www.musicstreetjournal.com
I reviewed another set from this artist, but if you look under “Luke Leblanc” you will only find it as a “related” review. That’s because that one was released under the moniker “Little Diamonds.” This is the same artist, but now he’s using his real name instead. That set was heavily based on roots music, and so is this one. There is a lot of country and folk here, but also some blues. All in all, this is great. There isn’t a weak track here, and it flows well. If you dig authentic sounding roots music, give this a try. You will probably really enjoy it.
Track by Track Review
I dig the acoustic guitar that makes up the backdrop of this piece. There is an energy to the cut despite the mellow nature and stripped back arrangement. I love the flow of the vocals, too. This is a strong folk rock based number (with some hints of country music), and a great way to start things in style.t
Time on My Hands
There is a lot more country music in the mix here. A lot of that comes from the violin (or should I say “fiddle?”) and other instrumentations added to the mix. In a lot of ways this isn’t a huge change from the opener, but the arrangement has more layers built into it, and the tune has more energy.
Another mellow tune, there is a lot of country in the mix here. This is dramatic and classy. I really dig the violin solo section on this. It adds a lot of flavor to the piece.
Now, this is a big change. Here we have an old school blues number that sounds so authentic that it’s scary. The blues harp adds a lot, and the whole piece just oozes cool.
The mix of country and folk on this cut is classy. The roots textures on this are so real and tasty.
Review by Jay Freeman, Divide and Conquer Music, divideandconquermusic.com
At the age of 11, Luke LeBlanc taught himself how to play guitar and decided from then on to write his own words and music. At 13, he was the youngest to win the Zimmy’s (named after Robert Zimmerman, aka Bob Dylan) national Dylan influenced singer/songwriter competition in Hibbing, Minnesota. Born and raised in Minneapolis, LeBlanc has opened shows for musicians in well known bands, such as Rembrandts, Badfinger, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and the Ozark Mountain Daredevils – all while attending school and playing sports. His current release Time on My Hands is his third recording which follows up his 2013 release New Orleans Bound.
The EP is a blend of alternative and folk, with similar sounds to Ray Lamontagne, Houndmouth, Brandi Carlisle, and the Avett Brothers. Everything was recorded live, and I cannot express enough how beautiful and pure the live sound is. LeBlanc had help on bass and kick drum from John Cleve Richardson, Laurie Melting on violin, Luke Kramer on electric guitar and Stacy Bowen on the fourth track “Please Stay.”
“Beautiful” starts of with clean and delicate guitar picking with LeBlanc tapping his foot on a piece of plywood. A tender love song – “You’re the most beautiful thing in the air tonight” – with bass and violin coming in later just a sweet and tender as the lyrics. The EPs title track number “Time on My Hands” takes a reflective turn from the viewpoint of the 20-something songwriter. Musically, it has an alt-country folk flavor with a warm sounding electric and a steady beat. In a way, it reminded me of what the Replacements were doing on their last LP All Shook Down, before Paul Westerberg and company called it a day (And from one Minnesota native to another, you better believe I’m a ‘Mats fan!).
With “Winter Rising” the mood is quiet, the rhythm slow and the song suggests hope and the will to let go, but also nostalgia and wisdom – a very classy and professional tune, in my opinion. “Please Stay” is a classic blues number, complete with two harmonicas in different keys batting out their tune alongside the stripped down, clean sound of LeBlanc’s acoustic and Kramer’s low and smooth electric. The last song, “Highway’s Gone” has that feel of a new day on the open road when your thinking about your place in life and where you’ve been and where you’re hoping to end up. LeBlanc sounds somewhat like a young Dylan or Springsteen on this last number, and that’s good company to be in.
Review by Paul McGee, Lonesome Highway (Dublin, Ireland), lonesomehighway.com
These 5 songs are thoughtfully delivered with understated playing and a production that proves the adage that ‘less is more’. On the opening, Beautiful, the studio musicians interplay across an arresting acoustic rhythm as the longing of the lyric spins the driver home along dark Wisconsin roads. Time On My Hands sparks with an up-tempo arrangement and a focus on living for the moment. Winter Rising slows things down with an easy strum and superb violin from Laurie Melting Stagner, both restrained and reflective in delivery.
The 12-bar blues of Please Stay, with dual harmonica from Stacy Bowen and Luke LeBlanc, is nicely paced and quietly laid-back while the final song, Highway’s Gone, ends up on the road again as a metaphor for a failing relationship; “drivin’ on empty and runnin’ out of room”- a bittersweet melody to take everyone home.
Luke LeBlanc sings with a warm tone and his voice has a fine quality and resonance across these acoustic tracks. Well worth investigation and another steady step taken in a career that is gaining momentum.
Some New Orleans Bound reviews from Indie Mindy Music, Vents Magazine, No More Division, and Skope Mag, among others!
Star Tribune music critic Jon Bream featured Luke LeBlanc’s New Orleans Bound in his “Pick Six” series.
“A half-dozen cool things in music, from two points of view…
Little Diamonds, “New Orleans Bound.” Minneapolis high school senior Luke LeBlanc may have chosen an unnecessary moniker and inappropriate photos for his CD package, but he sure has gone to school on Dylanesque folk music. With a voice evoking early John Prine, he has crafted some commendable if derivative tunes, most notably “Too Early Gone.”
Jon Bream, Star Tribune“
TC Daily Planet 2013 Year in Review, Sounding off on Sounds, Dwight Hobbes
“You don’t often come across an artist richly gifted as singer-songwriter Luke LeBlanc. His album New Orleans Bound is an amazingly rich offering that nestles next to your heart with acoustic warmth. Abundant as the Twin Cities music scene is in eyebrow-raising talent, Luke LeBlanc’s ear-friendly, indeed entrancing music marks him as a stand-out talent.” (full article can be found at http://www.tcdailyplanet.net/arts/2014/01/15/sounding-sound-year-2013-review )
Twin Cities Daily Planet, music critic Dwight Hobbes
“Beautifully gifted singer-songwriter Little Diamonds (nee Luke LeBlanc) has a warm, companionable acoustic sound that immediately endears his music to you. The word for his artistry would be heartfelt, with a healthy hint of bluegrass style. New Orleans Bound, an even dozen offerings of sterling craftsmanship, confirms that, hands down.
Listening to him sing and strum guitar, delivering refreshingly simple lyrics, you’d swear the guy hasn’t got a pretentious bone in his body. Especially when he draws from the same sweetwater well as Jim Croce (think Croce’s touch with “Photographs And Memories” or “New York’s Not My Home”). In fact, he executes rich, low-keyed vocals that always hit a note dead-on and manage to convey a world of emotion with a mere inflection. You don’t come by this caliber of singer-songwriter all the time.
The melodies on New Orleans Bound,throughout, are each so distinctly rich, that though the music is mostly LeBlanc on guitar-harmonica without a band and clever arrangements to mix things up and keep your ear interested, he never loses you for a moment. Though when he does enlist assistance, for instance, on “12-12-12” with Jeremy Krueth (drums), Laurie Melting (fiddle), Blake Bunde (drums), and Johnnie Wall (pedal steel guitar), it works like a charm. It’s a buoyant little wryly tongue-in-cheek ditty, that’ll have you absent-mindedly nodding your head and tapping your feet, listening with a smile, especially to the lines,
Well, the river’s froze over
But, the ice is pretty thin
Underneath that water’s flowin’
I don’t know where it ends
They say Jesus walked on water
I suppose I’ll try it, too.
The world’s gonna end
So, I ain’t got much to lose.”
“Dwight Hobbes has written for ESSENCE, Reader’s Digest, the Washington Post, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the St. Paul Pioneer Press, City Pages, Mpls/St. Paul, MN Law & Politics, Pulse of the Twin Cities, the Minneapolis Observer, the Twin Cities Daily Planet, Saint Paul Almanac 2009, Women & Word, the San Diego Union-Tribune, The Circle and Insight News”