Thursday, May 05, 2011

April 2011 Album of the Month 

Ray LaMontagne "God Willin' & The Creek Don't Rise"


Listen for free here on Grooveshark

I'd heard Ray LaMontagne's previous albums and liked them. He's got a throaty and gruff "old soul" voice that reminds a lot of folks of Van Morrison or the guy from Gomez. I actually heard a song from this album on the radio in my car and did one of those things where you find an old receipt and scrounge a pen and try to write down as many of the lyrics as you can without crashing.


His previous albums sounded a bit like solo efforts, but it seems like now he's settled in with a real band. Lots of good pedal steel, occasional banjo and shuffle beats. The whole thing has a real "Harvest" feel like the Neil Young album, with a couple songs that make you think "Hey, is this 'Old Man?' No? Oh, Ok. You sure? Hmmp. I still like it though."


The standout track is definitely "Beg, Steal or Borrow" but the positive but retrospective "Old Before Your Time" and the slowed-to-a-crawl "Like Rock & Roll Radio" are also stand-out front porch sittin' songs.

An excerpt from the Review:
LaMontagne helmed the session at his home studio and it is mostly a loose, laid-back affair with a couple of exceptions. The Pariah Dogs -- bassist Jennifer Condos, guitarists Eric Heywood and Greg Leisz, and drummer Jay Bellerose -- have recorded and/or toured with him previously. The opener, "Repo Man," is the album's wild card. Introduced by a popping upright bassline, it's a gritty funk number that's totally out of place with the rest of what's here. Bellerose plays tight breaks, the guitars roil and coil, and LaMontagne's protagonist indicts a former lover, spitting out lyrics in a grainy, swaggering growl. The album changes direction abruptly on "New York Is Killing Me." It's a sad country song whose title reveals a longing for somewhere else as Leisz's pedal steel guitar twins with LaMontagne's world-weary voice. The title track is a love letter from a cattle driver to his beloved back at home. Bellerose's deeply tuned snare and tom-toms are balanced by two pedal steels underscoring the otherworldly loneliness in the grain of LaMontagne's voice. "Beg Steal or Borrow" is a midtempo shuffle that exhorts a younger man to just go; to fulfill his dreams at any cost. Two broken love songs -- "Are We Really Through" and "This Love Is Over" -- seem to echo the sentiments in "Repo Man," albeit far more gently. Both are skeletal and moody; the latter touches on the soul balladry LaMontagne's known for, but with a jazzy touch in the guitars. It's the best cut here. "Old Before Your Time" is the brother to "Beg Steal or Borrow": it reveals the consequences -- perhaps to the man in the mirror -- if the admonitions in the previous tune are not adhered to. - Thom Jurek


Maybe buy it at Amazon MP3 or maybe on the iTunes?

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