Leo Rondeau - Take It And Break It

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Originally from the Turtle Mountains in North Dakota, Leo Rondeau now calls Austin, TX his home. His songs describe interesting characters in both mundane and extraordinary circumstances. This storytelling, enhanced by catchy melodies, earned him a Songwriter of the Year nomination from the Academy of Texas Music for his previous record, "Down at the End of the Bar." "Take It and Break It," is built with the simple approach of good songs and good sounds. This has yielded an album that sounds unique and instantly classic. Under the seasoned ears of roots rock producer R.S. Field (Billy Joe Shaver, Hayes Carll, Sonny Landreth) Rondeau's country folk songs take on a cocky persona that struts through the speakers. The uptempo Cajun accordion drives "Love Again," the album's opening track, to the point where your feet can't help but get moving to the groove. "Here's my Heart" falls more in Tom Petty or Eagles territory, with layered harmonies and a very singable chorus. "Bound to be a Winner" is a rocker that pushes hard and dares the listener not to be. "Blackjack Davy Revisited" is based on the classic folk tune of a similar name. It has a spooky feel, it's pedal steel creating a stark lonely landscape for Rondeau's vulnerable vocal delivery of a cautionary tale to all the fair and tender ladies. Rondeau doesn't constrain himself to any formulas or genres when writing songs, which gives the record a lot of dynamic that is enhanced by the great band and production. "Right in the Middle" is a laid back folky bluegrass tune whereas "Far Away" is more comfortable within the rock realm, it's distorted guitars and a shouting bridge. "Resistance in my Blood" is a story that touches on the dark reality of U.S. history while adding a personal perspective. The Moby Dick-inspired "Whaler's Tale" is a spacey seven-minute journey through the wilds of the sea that puts a nice finish on the album. Recorded in Austin to two-inch tape with all Austin musicians (except for Nashville guitar ace Carl Miner), the album highlights Field's approach of allowing the musicians to "play how they play"; this only adds and never detracts from Rondeau's simple, honest songwriting. The result of this pairing is a record that has an organic warm sound, natural and good on the ears.