Singer-songwriters are worth their weight in gold when you, the listener, feel as though they are in your living room playing just for you. That’s the indelible mark of Minneapolis-based singer-songwriter Luke LeBlanc. LeBlanc will release his third full-length album, Only Human, July 9. It’s one of those instantly memorable records with a warm, loose, and comfortable vibe, is poised to cement LeBlanc as a new singer-songwriter to watch.
Only Human offers a melodic, charming mixture of heart-on-the-sleeve folk, jangly pop, and back porch roots music. LeBlanc, 25, crafts 10 tunes brimming with lived-in appeal. He recorded Only Human at Real Phonic Studio in Cleveland, Minnesota from November 2019 through March 2020, with some additional recording after the country went into lockdown because of the pandemic. Produced and engineered by Erik Koskinen, who also plays electric guitar, bass, and pedal steel guitar, Only Human also features John Cleve Richardson on piano, organ, bass, and backing vocals; Kerri Joy on violin and backing vocals; and Erin Bekkers on drums.
At the center of Only Human are the songs, gems such as “Lowry Avenue,” “Same Blues,” “Oh My Lordy,” “Water,” and “Good Times Gone.” These mature musical vignettes belie the young age of the man who created them.
“The album touches on everything it means to be ‘only human’,” says LeBlanc. “In these songs, I dive into joy, loss, love, life in general – and the need to sometimes drive away from it all.”
Then again, LeBlanc is already a fully formed artist. Born and raised in Minneapolis’ Northside, LeBlanc taught himself to play guitar when he was 11 years old. It didn’t take long before he was connecting music with words. A mere two years later, when LeBlanc was 13, he was the youngest talent to win the Zimmy (named after Robert Zimmerman, better known as Bob Dylan), a national singer-songwriter competition held in Hibbing, Minnesota.
Only Human is a snapshot of LeBlanc’s artistic evolution so far. The album springboards from the promise of his first two full length efforts – 2010’s First Rail and 2013’s New Orleans Bound, both released under his then stage name Little Diamonds – and his 2018 EP, Time on My Hands. Only Human gives us a peek into the vast sonic possibilities of a burgeoning singer-songwriter.