Tag: The Civil Wars

Zaac Pick is a Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada-born, Vancouver-based singer/songwriter and guitarist. Relocating to Vancouver in the early ’00s, Pick quickly immersed himself in the region’s indie-folk music community as a guitarist and songwriting member of Doubting Paris. After the band was dropped from their American label, Pick decided it was time to venture out on his own, eventually releasing a string of attention-grabbing EPs an an LP which received radio airplay on the CBC and helped built up enough of a profile to land opening slots for The Civil Wars, Noah Gundersen and Bahamas, helped him earn several regional songwriting nominations and awards, as prominent appearances for his work on major network television shows.
Slated for a June 26, 2020 release, Pick’s forthcoming full-length effort Passages reportedly finds the Medicine Hat-born, Vancouver-based singer/songwriting leaving behind the folk simplicity for a sweeping and cinematic sound featuring dance floor friendly rhythms, pulsing guitars, soaring strings and arpeggiating synths but while juxtaposed with his warmly reassuring vocals and thoughtful songwriting tackling heavy subject matter. In the case of Passages, the album’s material thematically focuses on learning to embrace the beauty of life’s liminal states with the album exploring the ambiguities and complexities of desire, masculinity, mental health, disillusionment and finding strength.
Although most of Passages‘ material was written fairly quickly, the recording process initially proved to test Pick’s resolve: three months of unfruitful recording sessions nearly derailed the project. Feeling as though he were floundering, Pick abandoned those early sessions and started over with a new producer Jonathan Anderson, at his Protection Island Studio in rural Maple Ridge, British Columbia, Canada. With Anderson’s guidance, Pick returned the album’s songs to their essence — and the album was recorded with newfound confidence in an inspired burst over a few weeks. Passages also features contributions from some of Vancouver’s finest singer/songwriters and players, including Jordan Klassen, Tourist Company‘s Taylor Swindells, Bre McDaniel, Copilots and Fond of Tigers‘ Skye Brooks and string arrangements by Dear Rouge‘s and Holy Hum‘s sibling duo Brian and Caleb Chan.
Passages’ first single, “Atmosphere” is a slick and seamless synthesis of earnest and deeply personal lyricism, cinematic and 80s inspired soundscapes and soaring hooks paired with what may be some of  Pick’s most ambitious and adventurous songwriting.
“‘Atmosphere’,” as Pick explains in press notes “is about loving someone despite the flaws or hardships you face together, and the tension between knowing and mystery in long-term relationships.” Pick notes that “‘Atmosphere acknowledges the space in between, how it expands and contracts, blurring and coming into focus over time. The distance that can grow between two people, that still allows for the desire or willingness to cross it and reconnect. The song started out as a scrap of a melody in a voice memo, and the lyrics came together from some disparate places — a Jeff Wall photograph, an Esther Perel podcast, some therapy.”
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Live Footage: Acclaimed Singer/Songwriter Dylan LeBlanc Performs “Renegade” at FAME Studios

Dylan LeBlanc is Shreveport, LA-born and based singer/songwriter and guitarist, who grew up in a very musical home. LeBlanc’s father was a country singer/songwriter. who performed in various bars and clubs across the region. At a very young age, LeBlanc acquired a unique musical education, in which he frequently spent late nights watching his father and other musicians record at the studios, where his father play as a studio musician. Naturally, the Shreveport-born and-based singer/songwriter and musician was intrigued and became a musician himself, eventually playing in his first band, an alternative rock band by the name of Jimmy Sad Eyes Blue with another local musician Daniel Goodwill. 

As the story goes, Goodwill inspired LeBlanc to begin writing his own music. After spending a few years with Jimmy Sad Eyes Blues, LeBlanc was forced to attend rehab. Following rehab, LeBlanc decided to pursue music full-time instead of returning to high school. He joined Muscle Shoals Punk Rock band, replacing its lead singer, who left the band to join Sons of Roswell — and as a member of the band, Dylan toured throughout the region. A few years later, he co-founded the band Abraham, a band that also featured Alabama Shakes’ Ben Tanner, who at the time was also the house engineer at FAME Studios. 

When LeBlanc turned 19, he left Abraham to pursue a solo career. He signed with Rough Trade Records, who released his full-length debut, 2010’s Paupers Field, which featured “If The Creek Don’t Rise,” a collaboration with Emmylou Harris. To support the album, the Shreveport-born and-based singer/songwriter and guitarist opened for the likes of Lucinda Harris, The Civil Wars, Laura Marling, George Ezra and Calexico. Building upon a growing profile, LeBlanc’s sophomore album 2012’s Cast the Same Old Shadow was released to critical praise, with The Guardian calling the album’s songs “as beautiful as they are bleak,” and the album itself, “eerie rather than unsettling.” That year, LeBlanc opened for Bruce Springsteen, First Aid Kit, The Drive By Truckers and Alabama Shakes. 

Dylan LeBlanc’s third full-length album, the John Paul White-produced 2016’s Cautionary Tale featured Alabama Shakes’ Brittany Howard and was praised by the likes of NPR and No Depression. Supporting that album, he wound up touring with the likes of Anderson East, The Wood Brothers and others. 

Interestingly, LeBlanc’s fourth album, the recently released Dave Cobb-produced Renegade finds the Shreveport-born and-based singer/songwriter and guitarist and his backing band attempting to write the sort of songs that matched the atmosphere that they were bringing live. “So, I started with ‘Renegade,’ which was fitting since I felt myself going in a new, more intense direction with this record. In the studio, I let go almost absolutely and let Dave Cobb do his work. It was a different experience for me-how focused Cobb was and how quickly we would get live takes down, mostly in one or two takes and never more than three. It left me spinning at how quickly it all came together. Over the course of ten days Renegade was complete and ready for mastering. And I couldn’t be more excited to share it with you.”

“Renegade” the album title track and first single off the recently released album is a shuffling and atmospheric, minor key rocker, centered around an atmospheric hook, shimmering, pedal effected guitars and LeBlanc’s lilting falsetto, and while clearly being indebted to Damn the Torpedoes-era Tom Petty, the carefully crafted reveals a novelistic attention to psychological depth, as it tells the story of two star-crossed lovers — one, who seems desperate to leave, the other, who is desperate to stay. 

Directed by Alysse Gafkjen, the recently released video was filmed at Muscle Shoals’ legendary FAME Studios. Interestingly, the live session was a sort of homecoming for LeBlanc, who who began working at the studio when he was 16 — and where he later began recording his own music. “It was surreal and brought me back to a time and place that I had almost forgotten,” LeBlanc says of the sessions. “The only place where time always seems to stand still.”