“My name is Coyote, I’m gonna cross that border town,” sings Dylan LeBlanc, as he taps into the American mythical landscape and takes on the role of one of its greatest supporting characters.
The opening track to LeBlanc’s forthcoming album of the same name, ‘Coyote’ is a slice of quietly majestic country-folk, braced by a warm arrangement of gentle fingerpicking and softly sweeping strings set to a fluttery Muscle Shoals groove, as the singer sets the scene for the record to come.
Both semi-autobiographical and a concept album, Coyote chronicles a man who lives dangerously, always on the edge. Coyote himself is trapped in the criminal underworld of Mexico. As he struggles to find a way out of his treacherous lifestyle, he is tormented by his past, enduring the pain and regret of lost love and a life wasted.
Throughout indigenous North American folklores the coyote has been a mythical character that symbolised the fine line between good and evil. He manifests benevolence and compassion towards human beings, even helping them and protecting them, at the same time as being a trickster, a master of disguise and an imitator of the gods.
In Navajo mythology, the coyote is a shadowy figure that can be funny or fearsome, always traveling, sometimes awful, often outrageous, greedy, vain, foolish, cunning and able to test the bounds of possibility and order.
When the coyote resurfaced as an anti-hero in post-World War II writing, especially with beat writers like Gary Snyder and William S. Burroughs, for whom it encapsulated a rejection of the establishment, it made its way back into contemporary cultural folklore.
Finding his way towards redemption and freedom, the Coyote at the centre of Dylan LeBlanc’s concept album is confronted by the essence of human nature, materialism, and the inherent desire for more. Though far removed from a perilous life like Coyote’s, LeBlanc admits he still feels as if he is “dancing on a razor’s edge” all the same.
LeBlanc says he has always related to the insatiable, scavenging nature of the wily coyote. Much like the animal, LeBlanc is a wanderer who knows when to trust his instincts, musically and otherwise. It is a spiritual kinship that runs deep, but he credits one particularly hair-raising face-to-face instance with solidifying his bond with the animal.
LeBlanc was in Austin, Texas, climbing the face of a 100-foot cliff, gambling with Mother Nature’s good graces as he pulled himself up by tree branches. Once he reached the top, all that laid ahead of him was a lush treeline. There was a breath of stillness, then the sound of a thunderous rustling that drew closer and closer to him. In a blink, LeBlanc watched as a frenzied raccoon came speeding out of the treeline, trailed by an animal that stopped and stared at him with striking intensity: a coyote.
“We’re looking at each other dead in the eyes… and I’m saying - out loud - ‘If it’s you or me, I am going to kick you off the side of this cliff. I’m not going down.’ It was intense, this human-animal moment,” LeBlanc recalls. “I’ve never forgotten that… he was just trying to survive and so was I.”
‘Coyote’ is premiering exclusively on Holler below.
Dylan LeBlanc returns with his highly anticipated new album Coyote on October 20th on ATO Records