A coyote is a wild beast that leads a life of danger, always moving and living on the edge of disaster, so it’s no coincidence that Dylan LeBlanc’s latest release takes on the name of the wandering animal. After spending most of his young life feeling on “the outside,” welcoming danger and the harrowing experiences brought on by living on a ledge and already identifying with the fiercely independent animal, LeBlanc had a one-on-one encounter with a coyote, staring the beast down on the top of a 100-foot cliff. “It was intense, this human-animal moment. I’ve never forgotten that… he was just trying to survive and so was I.” So when LeBlanc wrote the songs for his fictional auto-biographical story on his second album for ATO, it was only natural he name the tile character “Coyote.”
LeBlanc’s Coyote uses 13 haunting, deeply expressive songs to tell the story of a loner that crosses the border to become involved with drug cartels, following the “hero” through many pitfalls and travails as he gets himself in all sorts of troubles, falls in love, and finds himself finally, in the album’s closing track, “The Outside,” literally outside of prison walls and facing the life ahead, informed by all of the perilous experiences of his past.
LeBlanc’s already established lyrical prowess tells the tale over deftly subtle tracks laid down by what he calls, “killer session players,” boasting histories with artists from Ringo Starr and Sheryl Crow to Lana Del Rey. Self-producing, LeBlanc paints his songs on canvasses filled with strings and steel guitars, pulsing with emotion but always restrained, leaving the sense of cautious revelation. LeBlanc tells the story he identifies so closely with literally, introducing the character with the opening line of the first track, “My name is Coyote/I’m gonna cross that border town,” with the sense of danger that unfolds through the journey of isolation, love, and finally, damaged relief, clearly reflected in the wounded animal on the album cover.
“The coyote is still upright, even though he’s full of arrows, even though he has been shot and wounded many times,” explains the artist of the beast he feels so closely represented by. “He still keeps going in defiance of everything that has been thrown at him. You can’t get an arrow out completely. You can break one side of it off, but the arrow is still there… there’s a scar. It becomes a part of your identity.”
The tale of the resilient Coyote is already being told at Lightning 100, The SoCal Sound, Birmingham Mountain Radio, Colorado Sound, KRSH and a host of others.