This coming Tuesday evening at the Capitol Theatre, Moncton musician Shaun LeBlanc will be giving his audience a preview of his next full-length album, Dawn, which is due for release this coming fall.
A Royal Conservatory of Music trained pianist, the record will be LeBlanc’s first release in more than four years. In the interim, not only has he completely overhauled his sound, leaning more towards contemporary pop music, he has also adopted a new moniker – Shaun LB – under which to release music. The songwriter shares the change in artistic direction happened rather organically as he began stockpiling songs.
“These new songs ended up representing a significant musical change for me, but at the outset of first writing the material for this new album, I didn’t necessarily approach writing the songs any differently than what I had done in the past,” LeBlanc says.
“My last record [2013’s Kaleidoscope] featured a wide range of production, but I also felt it helped paint me into a corner as a singer-songwriter. I’m grateful for the opportunities I’ve had, but I felt like I got stuck in that space, and that I never necessarily had the opportunity to see what I could become otherwise.”
Enlisting Moncton native John Mullane of acclaimed indie-rock band In-Flight Safety as a producer for the project, the two began exchanging ideas, the bulk of which were preliminary demos featuring just LeBlanc on piano and vocals. From there, Mullane began adding layers of instrumentation, but when it was all said and done, he deliberately stripped LeBlanc’s original piano track completely out of the mix.
“One of the big goals for Shaun heading into this project was to break him out of what he’s been known for up to this point in his career,” Mullane says. “We talked a lot about introducing big melodies into the mix in the vein of The National and Tame Impala, and that’s exactly what we did.”
Mullane says that after sending LeBlanc a mixed-down version of the album’s title track, the songwriter texted him excitedly.
“It was just so thrilling to shake up the creative process and to break out of that singer-songwriter mould,” LeBlanc says. “It opened my eyes to a whole new world of musical possibilities.”
While his new music relies far more upon technology than his prior release, LeBlanc is insistent that performing live will remain a cornerstone of his artistry. Much like he went back to the creative drawing board for Dawn, he is also looking at what he can bring to the concert stage with a fresh set of eyes.
“It’s been a challenge to figure out how to incorporate the sound of the record in the live setting, but my live show isn’t about to become a karaoke act,” he offers, dispelling the notion that technology will completely dictate his concert performances from now on. “It’s important that I have musicians on stage with me to complement how my sound has evolved and to represent the album in a more cohesive way.”
What: Shaun LB
When: Tuesday June 20, 7 p.m.
Where: Capitol Theatre, 811 Main St., Moncton
Tickets are $15 and are available at the Capitol Theatre Box Office, by phone (506) 856-4379 and online at capitol.nb.ca.