Carl LeBlanc is another of the great, unsung musicians in New Orleans. His guitar and banjo skills have graced stages and recording with everyone from Preservation Hall to the Cosmic Krewe to the Sun Ra Arkestra. His previous record 7th Ward Griot was an entire world view contained on a CD. His newest record Those Who Have Ears is more produced.
Here, LeBlanc moves into a more modern rhythm and blues sound but without losing any soul or conviction. It still sounds like real people as opposed to computers are making the music. The songs have a spiritual focus from the lead cut “Revelation” to “Psalm 136/Enduring Mercy,” yet they vary in style from polished “Just For Your Love” to the cowbell-and-bass funk of “Psalm 136.”
LeBlanc’s vocals also serve several roles, as he offers sermons, sings praise or drops knowledge on to unsuspecting listeners. His guitar work is clean regardless if he’s playing single-note solos or jazz-chord vamps. Near the end, LeBlanc pulls out his banjo, summoning vintage New Orleans with a brass band dirge and march as beautiful and heartfelt as any played or recorded in recent years.
He finishes this record with a beautiful string piece composed by Jonathan Freilich, which is a great tonal follow-up to earlier brass band pieces. It also indicates how Carl LeBlanc’s skill and diverse taste can make for a fine recording more than suitable for Those Who Have Ears.