Tuesday, June 26, 2018


Now seems as good as any to fan the flames of the ultimate slow burn career of Ray LaMontagne, celebrating, roughly, his 15th year of recording. Unashamedly reflecting the music of the Laurel Canyon era; he was inspired to sing and write by the example of Stephen Stills, yet is more, way more, than the retro pigeon hole he is often placed. If the name means little, you will have heard his songs, seemingly of appeal to the commissioners of TV box sets, featuring in shows like 'Bones', 'ER'*, 'House' and 'Criminal Minds'.
 (Briefly changing the point, ain't that the dream job? I am forever shazaming away during TV nights, as husky blue-collar americana vies with quirky electronica to set the vibe onscreen, buying no few albums on the strength of the snippet heard, rather too often finding it to be their one moment in the sun, but hey, what can I do?)

'Burn' is from his 2003 debut, produced by no less than Ethan Johns in 2003. A largely low key acoustic affair, it took the glorious strings and brass settings of his next record, 2006's 'Til the Sun Turns Black' to fully showpiece his fragile charm. (*The clip from ER is the title track) A 3rd record, still with Johns, introduced a band setting, further developing the emotional palette, yearning enough in the raw form, exquisite when enhanced. Another song from this record, 'Gossip in the Grain' comes below. Entitled 'Sarah', it was also featured on/in 'House'.

A slight change of direction came with his next recording, self-produced and credited to Ray LaMontagne and the Prairie Dogs. Sensing some restlessness and, arguably, finding him treading water, it then took a brace of new producers to bring more out of him, firstly Dan Auerbach and then Jim James for his 5th and 6th respective discs. The former saw a echoes of a more distant past added to the colour scheme, 60s pop with Auerbach and a neo-psychedelia with James. To say 'Ouroboros' , the one helmed with James, was a radical departure might be no undestatement, with comparisons including Pink Floyd and 'Dark Side of the Moon'. OK, even with LaMontagnes's husky voice, but see how little understatement this is:

Here's what the singer had to say about it.

So where to go now? Well, he has just put out his latest. Back to his own production, I have yet to hear it but the reviews sound promising. Here's a great article from 'Uncut' magazine, travelling through his back pages with less of a pace, together with the new single.

'Part of the Light', including the above,  came out last month. Mine is in the post.

Last of all in this hardly covert fanboy tribute comes a clip that is a favourite of mine, showing our Ray, holding his head up in august company:

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