November 21, 2007

The Evolution of... Ray LaMontagne

Ray LaMontagne came into the public consciousness with his fantastic 2004 album, Trouble, and has since followed up with the 2006 album Till The Sun Turns Black. Over the past couple of years, he has released a number of absolutely fantastic songs that have made it big in both the radio and television world.
LaMontagne was born in New Hampshire and moved around a lot - his father, a musician, left the family and he was put off from music for years. He's apparently a huge fantasy fan (which is awesome), and moved to main where he worked as a shoe factory. During an early shift, he heard a song, Treetop Flyer, by Stephen Stills, and he quit and started working on music. He started touring in 1999. His demo started getting attention and he was invited to open for local folk concerts, opening for Jonathan Edwards. This attracted the attention of a record label, Chrysalis Music Publishing.

Trouble, released in 2004, is a fairly quiet album, brought to life with LaMontagne's fantastic guitar skills and songwriting. His songs are quiet, powerful and intimate. Trouble is characterized by a relatively stark sound, with some background instrumentation, but nothing major. Here, he's mainly carried with the guitar and vocals. The thing that probably really set LaMontagne apart was his voice, which has a husky feel to it that's not unlike Sam Beam (aka Iron & Wine).

Trouble - Ray LaMontagne
All The Wild Horses - Ray LaMontagne

2006 brought in a new album for LaMontagne - Till The Sun Turns Black, which reveals a fairly dramatic change with the overall sound and tone of the singer. Ray LaMontagne builds on the work that he did with Trouble, making it much richer in sound. His guitarwork has refined itself, and the introduction of more background instruments only adds and enhances the sound and feel to the album. Trumpets, piano, better bass-work and the introduction of the electric guitar have really made this album go above and beyond it's predecessor.

Three More Days - Ray LaMontagne
Be Here Now - Ray LaMontagne