Saturday, October 07, 2006

Ray LaMontagne

By far, one of the best, new American singer-songwriters is Ray LaMontagne. He was born in New Hampshire, but he seems to be from everywhere. He has a very different approach to music and writing, and his product manifests this. A biography on his website states:

"LaMontagne does not consider himself an entertainer; he writes, records, and performs his music and hopes that, in so doing, sheer passion and music will triumph. 'I always just express myself,' he says. 'I just kind of let them go, my songs. There are songwriters and musicians out there who are entertainers. They have so much fun. I envy that sometimes. They're having such a great time.'"

His music is simple and Dylanesque, and his voice is absolutely hurts to listen to sometimes, not because it is poor, but because it is so full of emotion. Just as Van Gogh's paintings demand thought and involvement, arresting the looker and forcing him to consider the message, so it is with LaMontagne's songs. These are complex poems filled with emotion, pain, questions, reflections, etc. and it is impossible to simply turn his music on as background filler noise. Again, the biography on his website states concerning his latest album,

"LaMontagne's voice — battered, bitter and beseiged, devastated and uncomprehending — remains central and alive..."

His latest album is, musically speaking, amazing. Till The Sun Turns Black is intricate and...for lack of a better word...beautiful.

I know nothing of his personal religious or philosophical beliefs, but as a general rule, don't look to artists for either. On his first album Trouble he disappointingly quoted from the book, The Last Temptation of Christ, but it is unclear what his point was. The quote mentions that God will always pardon singers...Again, he is a songwriter and singer...not a theologian.

If you are looking for a break with the normal trash that is perpetually pumped out of today's industry studios and then forced onto the masses, LaMontagne will not disappoint. His website is: