Dylan LeBlanc's Rough Trade debut aches with the kind world-weary angst and faux-wisdom that serves as the foundation for countless other confessional singer/songwriters. That the Louisiana native is only 20 years old will have some crying foul, but this son of a Muscle Shoals session player has grown up watching his mentors exorcize their demons through music, so why shouldn’t he? Paupers Field, a 12-track collection of slow, soulful country-folk, falls somewhere between Nick Drake, Jason Molina, Kelly Joe Phelps and Fleet Foxes. LeBlanc’s smoky, emotive voice carries with it the reluctant ardor of his southern homeland, and his tales of love, life, loss and death feel real enough, if not duly informed by a lot of late nights nursing a pilfered bottle of bourbon over a stack of Neil Young and Townes Van Zandt records. It’s hard to deny the thick fog of finger-picked, '70s soft rock that hangs over Paupers Field, but standout cuts -- like the weepy “Emma Hartley,” “Low,” “Death of Outlaw Billy John,” and “If the Creek Don’t Rise,” the latter of which features effortless harmony vocals from none other than Emmylou Harris -- show a great deal of promise, especially when this old soul, saddled with the weight of a young man’s preconceptions, finds those ideals both met and shattered.
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AllMusic Review by James Christopher Monger