Leo Rondeau
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Leo Rondeau

Band Americana Singer/Songwriter

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"Good New Music"

Up-and-coming, Austin-based singer-songwriter Rondeau’s sophomore effort is a real beaut. His brand of “I did it my way” country is at once original and traditional; mainstream and avant garde; foreign yet familiar.
Comparisons are elusive, but not since Gram Parsons/Poco/New Riders/Marshall Tucker has the genre been melded properly with the intangible “it” to create something new and exciting. His high, lonesome and twangy voice nearly floats atop a bed of not quite country rock and sometimes slightly cosmic American music.
Others have attempted this feat: the short-lived Southern California band Beachwood Sparks or “Cold Roses”-era Ryan Adams. But Rondeau has them beat because he not only makes good use of fiddles, banjos, mandolins, dobros and steel guitars, he’s a storyteller as well.
Much of his subject matter involves women who’ve done their men wrong in one way or another, but he also regales with tales of ramblers, barflies, middle-aged women with small-town blues, and siblings coming of age in the Old West.
Check out some of this wordplay:
(from “You Ain’t for Me”)
No tears obstructed her vision
In her voice there was no quivering
No trembling in her lips
No turning back in her hips
No goodbye would grace her tongue
A solemn look then she was gone
From lovers to nothing
Why I just never saw it coming
(and from “Rhinestones”)
They were all wanting handouts
And I was passing around beats
The shufflers wanted four
And the waltzers wanted three
And I’ve barely got it together
Please allow me to explain
I’m not going to be the one
To drive this boogie woogie choo choo train
One last observation to make a case for Rondeau’s music: He’s such a maverick that, on a couple of songs, he dares to mix horns with country — something only Marty Robbins, the Kinks (circa “Muswell Hillbillies”) and the Hacienda Brothers have ever done well. - Good New Music


"Austin Sound"

Down at the End of the Bar is a relentlessly polished release from a country singer who’s had nothing but good press thrown his way since the release of his debut album, Bangs, Bullets, and the Turtle Mountatins. Leo Rondeau’s skittish, warbley vocals sound warm, toned and confident on his latest release as he tells tales of boozing loners, love gone awry, and clueless heretics. There are many sides to Rondeau on Bar. The impressionable, and slyly passionate yodelings that dress the album are trademark and come off especially appealing on the folksy “She’ll Get the Advantage” and “Better Place for You,” both vulnerable points for Rondeau and Bar. They manage, however, to wear their vulnerability well.
Rondeau also displays a wit of country balladry on the fatalistic “Had I Known” (”Kept it in my heart it was only self defense/ But I’d shoot a man down if I ever had the chance”). The title track from Bar, a lonely remit of a barfly too young, is awash in steel and waltz-time guitars giving Rondeau a beer-soaked background to muse over in a lazy drawl. His voice gives steam to songs that would otherwise sound contrived. “Weary Owls” gives a willing glance towards alt-country while “Rhinestones” is redeemed by Rondeau’s ear for a good hook and a heavy country back beat.
A more whimsical and adventurous Rondeau comes through in the Dixieland flavored “Rapture” (“Where did everybody go?”/ Chorus: “Rapture!”) and “Blues Came Today” (“Here’s to supposing if the world was frozen/ I wouldn’t be the only one who was blue”). He writes with simplicity, but in a half-drunk tongue-in-cheek air and with an artful lack of symmetry in his melodies through much of the album, so his songs are always a few steps ahead of the norm. More sober tunes like “Elephant in this Room” and the lament, “Had I Known” do well combining Rondeau’s idiosyncratic writing with the artist’s forlorn and darker side. While they might not entertain as well as other more sunny tracks, they provide the album with a depth that would otherwise be minuscule.
Perhaps Rondeau’s greatest talent lies in his ability to write achingly honest county songs without sounding like he meant to and thereby spoiling their Western pedigree. Influenced by earlier country and folk legends such as *Robert Earl Keen and Townes van Zandt, Rondeau displays a striking wit in his lyricism that drive the songs. His focus is on the words and the characters that he sings about. His songs are meditated and composed with such maturity, that his writing verges on an unwitting and mystical passing of the torch. - Austin Sound


Discography

Bangs Bullets and the Turtle Mountains

Down at the End of the Bar

Photos

Bio

I was born and raised in the Turtle Mountains of North Dakota. I have pulled the stiff, frozen extension cord from the rusty nail and slew it across the snow and ice covered ground to reach the block heater on the vehicle. This had to be done to increase the chance of the vehicle’s starting. I use to have a 1980 Ford Bronco with really good four wheel drive and really poor tires. The poor tires plus my teenage driving ability landed me in the ditch on more than one occasion, sometimes on purpose, sometimes on accident but it was always fun. I would drive around looking for hills to climb that may provide a challenge or sense of exhilaration and I would always find the latter but rarely the former for the old Bronco. Before I would began my ascent on these aforementioned hills I would put “Just the good ole boys” by Waylon Jennings into the cd player. The song would start, I would go and at the very first bump the cd would skip and then the music would stop. From that point on all that could be heard was the dual exhaust and them four wheels clawing their way through the snow. When the top was reached I would come to a stop and relish in my conquest, at which point Waylon Jennings would rejoin me with a chorus.

Did I mention that I write songs? I sing them too.