Encore Music Review

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Encore Music Reviews
November, 2005
By: Kyle Simmons

Countryside Dreaming: …said the firefly to the hurricane is sincere, heartfelt

I often look at folk singers as a definite precursor to hip-hop emcees. That’s right, freewheelin’ Bob Dylan was a rapper. He’s been singing about “Tweeter and the Monkey Man … selling cocaine and hash.”

Nah, I won’t put that much emphasis on this because too often are black artists under-accounted for; their monumental attributes to modern music are brushed aside in favor of white artists that come do the same thing right after them. In all honesty, Cowboy was the first rapper. KRS-One was wrong on this one. Hip-hop most certainly started out in Queens. (Gasp, I’ve diverged on yet another tangent. Somebody slap my wrist.)

The point I was trying to make was a connection between the two genres that a lot of listeners might easily miss: The strength of both lies in the power of the lyrics more so than the technique in which they’re presented. That is, the words themselves hold more weight than they would in more pop-worthy genres. Truthfully, I’ve never liked Bob Dylan’s voice. Singing was never his strength, but his songwriting is impeccable. I could very much say the same for Don de Leaumont.

de Leaumont’s voice sort of irks me, and I can’t pinpoint the problem other than guessing that he’s trying a little too hard. That’s not to say that
He seems like a real good dude that loves music and loves life. That’s not too far from how I feel. I’d say he’s akin to the Roots drummer Questlove, who was recently geeked at being in Jon Brion’s legendary recording studio. After reading some of de Leaumont’s blogs on donontheweb.livejournal.com, I’m certain this is the case. He’s a fan first and second, an artist. This might just be the less palpable route, though it leads to the stronger tunes.

de Leaumont strums his guitar with gusto and honor: “I gaze into the moon/As I’m sitting in my room/And it filled up my soul with its light.” Lyrically, he’s quite sound. On “California Bound” he talks about hitching a ride to California on a whim. Don reminds me of a less dreary Elliott Smith; thankfully too, because Smith often shrouded the melancholic substance of his lyrics with upbeat tempos.

…said the firefly to the hurricane, de Leaumont’s 2007 LP, is sincere, heartfelt and easy to grasp. It’s just a man and his best friend, who also happens to be his guitar, telling folktales set mostly in North Carolina, with themes familiar to the simple man. And as he’s stated so frankly, “I haven’t been so nice to myself/I put myself up on a shelf.” Maybe we all could learn a little something by dropping our pretensions.

If you feel a need to set free, visit Don deLeaumont’s show at the Port City Java on Front Street, Saturday, April 14th, 8pm. It couldn’t hurt to dream of the countryside.