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Heather Lynne Horton
Heather Lynne Horton. Photo credit: Ron Horne

Music Reviews: Heather Lynne Horton – ‘Get Me to a Nunnery,’ Luke LeBlanc – ‘Places’

Heather Lynne Horton – Get Me to a Nunnery

“After All This Time,” the leadoff track on Heather Lynne Horton’s first album in five years, rapidly blossoms into a jangly midtempo rock anthem, catchy hook and all. The U2-style sonic attack continues in the four-on-the-floor drive of the head-turning “I Don’t Like Your Children.” In both, Horton’s vocals float above a glimmering broth of guitars, keyboards and reverb. The album’s characteristic wash of sound often makes the lyrics hard to make out, but a CD insert provides them.

By the fourth track, the set relaxes into a sweetly produced but sleepy string of shadowy ballads that suggest a Pink Floyd vibe. The misty arrangements create tension, but with so much slow material in a row, the album goes slack at times. I appreciate details such as the punchy violin coda to “Beatrix” – the talented multi-instrumentalist also indulges in an instrumental violin wash-of-sound extravaganza to close the album – and the spacious vocal harmonies and strong melody of the album’s top quiet track, “Sunset Marigold.” But I find myself wishing for more of the surging energy of the first two tracks to enliven the songs’ themes of thwarted love, patriarchy, and the meaning of success.

As a lyricist Horton can say much in few words. “I hold your hand / As the plane goes down…We were never meant to fly,” she sings in “Take Off.” The song refers specifically to an artistic career, but on another level to roles within a relationship, and on still a third to a perhaps fruitless search for life’s overall meaning. All in all, though, the hypnotic vocals, the writing, and the skillful and evocative production would add up to more with greater rhythmic variety and less dependence on gleaming acoustic ballads.

Heather Lynne Horton’s Get Me to a Nunnery is out September 22 and available for pre-order now.

Luke LeBlanc – Places

Singer-songwriter Luke LeBlanc has never sounded – or written – better than on his fifth album, Places, which follows up his fine Fugue State. In the tradition of Jim Croce by way of Hayes Carll, these 10 songs explore the scuffed underside of the places we go – and the ones we make in our hearts.

Molding ur-chord progressions and instantly grokkable folk-country melodies, LeBlanc creates vignettes of defiance and regret, love and loss. Backed by a bevy of superb musicians he plumbs the depths of Americana styles, from pentatonic purity (“A Place”) and footstomp blues (“Marble Stone”) to acoustic rock (“Own It”) and quirky folk (“Defeated”). “We’ll walk that line that divides the dark from the funny,” he cleverly sings in the soft closing track “Right Way.” This album sits at a similar crossroads: the warm intersection of pulsing humanity and scary eternity.

Luke LeBlanc

Woodsy vocals, gentle guitars, pedal steel, violin, and occasional sax and trumpet ground the sound, while the spirit and the vocal harmonies soar and the lyrics penetrate with sharp honesty. As LeBlanc sings in “Honey Rebel,” one of the best tracks on an album that’s strong from start to finish: “Honey Rebel, keep it tethered, tied together like rock and roll / Honey Rebel, I’m your pebble, let me fill that empty space in your soul.”

Places may just fill an empty space in your music collection that you didn’t know was there. It’s out October 27. The first single, “A Place,” was released September 15.

About Jon Sobel

Jon Sobel is Publisher and Executive Editor of Blogcritics as well as lead editor of the Culture & Society section. As a writer he contributes most often to Music, where he covers classical music (old and new) and other genres, and Culture, where he reviews NYC theater. Through Oren Hope Marketing and Copywriting at http://www.orenhope.com/ you can hire him to write or edit whatever marketing or journalistic materials your heart desires. Jon also writes the blog Park Odyssey at http://parkodyssey.blogspot.com/ where he is on a mission to visit every park in New York City. He has also been a part-time working musician, including as lead singer, songwriter, and bass player for Whisperado.

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