Lisa LeBlanc Highways, Heartaches and Time Well Wasted

Lisa LeBlanc Highways, Heartaches and Time Well Wasted
Following a critically acclaimed eponymous LP that went platinum on the strength of both her powerful voice and catchy, no-frills songwriting (best exemplified by 2012's ubiquitous "Aujourd'hui, ma vie c'est d'la marde"), Lisa LeBlanc returns with a six-song EP that aims to introduce her to English-speaking markets.

As such, Highways, Heartaches and Time Well Wasted does not radically reinvent the sound that made Lisa LeBlanc a winning and accomplished debut, with echoes of Led Zeppelin III's blend of English folk music and Southern blues as well as a DIY garage-rock aesthetic, but it's no simple stopgap release, either. From the opening bars of "You Look Like Trouble (But I Guess I Do Too)," LeBlanc's banjo playing sounds sharper, her finely honed songwriting tighter and her slightly gravelly voice more confident as it rises to a thunderous holler on the song's stomping chorus.

LeBlanc has said that the EP was inspired by a trip across the U.S., and there is an undercurrent of road-weariness in the lyrics ("My heart's always traveled with me in my suitcase/ and I guess I don't wanna see it ending up in yours"), but this also manifests itself in a kind of restlessness in her music, which moves from reflective, bluesy folk ("The Waiting List") to Ennio Morricone-inspired Spaghetti Western twang (the lonesome whistled melody of the mostly instrumental title track) to breakneck cowpunk ("Gold Diggin' Hoedown"). LeBlanc's rollicking arrangement of the traditional "Katie Cruel" (made famous by Karen Dalton) also testifies to her exceptional interpretative skills.

While Highways, Heartaches and Time Well Wasted will undoubtedly succeed in bringing LeBlanc's music to a broader audience, it also doubles as a perfect summation of this exciting, idiosyncratic musician's talents and her unique brand of "folk-trash." (Bonsound)