I used to struggle with Ray LaMontagne. Likely due to his gruff appearance, I kept trying to find the mountainous grit in his music. After spinning back his catalog, I finally came to terms with the soulful sweetness in tracks like “Trouble” and “You Are The Best Thing.”
While cleaning house and listening to NPR’s All Songs Considered, my ears perked when host Bob Boilen introduced a new LaMontagne song, stating “in fact, when I knew it was Ray LaMontagne, I took a double-check to make sure I was actually playing the right song.” With slight skepticism, I eagerly awaited to hear this suspect song.
That track happened to be “Lavender,” the album opener that fiddles with swirling psychedelic atmospheres somewhere between Beck’s Sea Change and Morning Phase, playing with melodies that could have been stitched together from Nada Surf‘s discography.
Produced by Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys, these bright and colorful sonics permeate the entire album. Songs range from the ’50s R&B inspired “Airwaves” to the rugged blues of “She’s the One” to the Beatles infused “Smashing.” LaMontagne’s vocal range matches the dynamics of the record to boot, with the high register calls of Andy Hull (Manchester Orchestra), fiery punches of Otis Redding, and quiet whimpers of Sam Beam (Iron & Wine).
Ray LaMongane sprang up spring with Supernova. Before I knew it, I had listened to the record three times over.