Music Review: Ray LaMontagne


RCA/Jim James Producer

March 2016 | CD/LP/Digital

Genre: Thematic Floydian Splendor 

Ray LaMontagne has been creating his own blend of American rock and roll for the past decade, with songs and albums born out of loss and heartache and heartbreak. He made great thematic progress to lead him to his latest masterpiece, “Ouroborors.”

This is an album of Floydian splendor, featuring longer than average songs carefully constructed in an architectural fashion, layer upon layer of bristled velvet with heavy starch vocals, fuzzed out guitars, and plenty of big Kentucky sound courtesy of Jim James and My Morning Jacket.

This thematic album takes the listener on a decidedly psychedelic journey and is broken into two parts, which works great for records since there are two sides. One final Floyd reference, this is LaMontagne’s “Dark Side of the Moon.” His big epic concept album, beautifully and simply written, clear and to the point, highlighted by stabs of the crunchiest Gibson Guitars and heav- enly choruses of affirmation and transcendence.

‘Be careful of the steps you take…’ he warns on “Hey No Pressure,” an epic crunchy fuzzed out affair with just the right swells and sweeps of synth. The chorus repeats over and over, complemented by short sharp stabs of inward breaths, building
the pressure to the boiling point that drops you off with the end of the track and at the door of the Changing Man. Thick and murky swampadelia ensues, with splashes of color and light from the dark lobe of the madcap himself. The songs segue together so seamlessly you’re not sure where one ends and the next begins. A heavenly chorus of transcendence and transformation layers like vocal clouds at the end of the first half, and the journey continues.

Light, optimism, and hope give it a wispier and gentler side, but there is still a shadow cast, like one over the small town in “The Lottery,” where things seem idyllic and easy, but there is something dark and sinister underneath. These songs are layered and lush, tones and drones and all the flourishes one would expect from a group of extremely talented musicians. Don’t miss the opportunity to catch this experience live as Ray and Company come to town on July 23 at CMAC. Happy listening.