Beautifully gifted singer-songwriter Little Diamonds (nee Luke LeBlanc) has a warm, companionable acoustic sound that immediately endears his music to you. The word for his artistry would be heartfelt, with a healthy hint of bluegrass style. New Orleans Bound, an even dozen offerings of sterling craftsmanship, confirms that, hands down.
Listening to him sing and strum guitar, delivering refreshingly simple lyrics, you’d swear the guy hasn’t got a pretentious bone in his body. Especially when he draws from the same sweetwater well as Jim Croce (think Croce’s touch with “Photographs And Memories” or “New York’s Not My Home”). In fact, he executes rich, low-keyed vocals that always hit a note dead-on and manage to convey a world of emotion with a mere inflection. You don’t come by this caliber of singer-songwriter all the time.
The melodies on New Orleans Bound, throughout, are each so distinctly rich, that though the music is mostly LeBlanc on guitar-harmonica without a band and clever arrangements to mix things up and keep your ear interested, he never loses you for a moment. Though when he does enlist assistance, for instance, on “12-12-12” with Jeremy Krueth (drums), Laurie Melting (fiddle), Blake Bunde (drums), and Johnnie Wall (pedal steel guitar), it works like a charm. It’s a buoyant little wryly tongue-in-cheek ditty, that’ll have you absent-mindedly nodding your head and tapping your feet, listening with a smile, especially to the lines,
Well, the river’s froze over
But, the ice is pretty thin
Underneath that water’s flowin’
I don’t know where it ends
They say Jesus walked on water
I suppose I’ll try it, too.
The world’s gonna end
So, I ain’t got much to lose.