Ray LaMontagne: Part Of The Light

review montagne x1 cong

We’ve not heard much of LaMontagne — who was famously inspired to write music after waking up one morning to the radio playing a Stephen Stills song — since his debut Trouble, which was folk-based reflections on life and death. It sold 500,000 copies but we guess his subsequent albums did less well: his second sold 28,000 copies “in its first week of release” while his next sold 60,000 copies, says Wikipedia. Respectable numbers but not enough to warrant review copies as low down the food chain as us.

So they must be expecting more from Part Of The Light to even send it to us, and we are pleasantly surprised. You need to play it loud and/or listen to it, as its delicate sound does not do well with half-listening.
When you do listen, it’s so chilled it’s falling backwards, with LaMontagne caressing the vocals, but it’s redeemed from being a rather serious folk album by its 60s/70s atmosphere, with Pink Floyd guitar in places and the sound of classic Elton John elsewhere.

Opener To The Sea is a proper 60s tune, reminding us in tone of Traffic’s 40,000 Headmen; it’s about a fondly-remembered trip to the seaside. Paper Man follows, and it’s a bit Dark Side of the Moon meets Elton John.

The title track follows and it’s gentler, even dreamier; as is It’s Always Been You, which is rather gorgeous with its gentle atmospheric guitar, all played at about 20 beats a minute. It’s slow.

The loudest track is As Black As Blood Is Blue, which has a riff and everything; with harsher vocals it could be proper psychedelic rock tune, but it’s more like a ballad with some wacky guitar.
This is probably for fans of, if not of a certain age, at least of a certain genre: Traffic, Cream, Pink Floyd, Neil Young, all played slowly.


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