Ray LaMontagane – Til the Sun Turns Black

Just picked this up, and at two songs in, my jaw is still on the ground…wow. Ever since the first time I heard Ray sing, I started pushing him on anyone that would listen. His voice is one of the few truly great voices I’ve heard in quite some time…urgent, passionate, visceral, primal, soulful…those are just a few of the words that I could use to describe it.

Now three songs in to the album and my immediate take is that this is a more produced album, but I don’t mean that in a negative manner at all. Some wonderful strings have been added to the otherwise basic instrumentation, giving the songs an almost cinematic sweep…”Barfly” has some old school soul guitar licks playing over the top a wonderful organ…these are the kinds of songs that make you stop in your tracks when you’re in a bar or a record store and send you off on a frantic chase for the bartender or store clerk to help you find the record.

“Three More Days” is a tight laid back almost Staxx-like jam…trumpets, organ, and a funky backbeat, all swirling around this voice that screams “LISTEN!”…”Gonna give it to you ’til you can’t say no” indeed.

Some people who loved “Trouble” (Ray’s first album) might be taken aback by the new, more expansive production. I would argue that it makes a lot of the compositions stronger than they might have been had this album been attacked in the same fashion as the last album. The strings make the tortured lamentations that much more poignant. “Can I Stay” is a song that uses strings to great effect(and it’s a song anyone who’s had a terrible fight with their girlfriend or boyfriend and immediately wishes it never happened can identify with):

“Can I stay here with you ’til the morning
I am so far from home and I feel lost and alone
Can I stay here with you til the morning
There’s nothing I want more than to wake
up on you floor..”

As I said, something everyone can identify with.

“You Can Bring Me Flowers” has a sinister snarl to it…a jazzy trumpet and a blues guitar add to the effect…and THEN you get hit with the flute near the fade out…this could have been recorded in some back alley juke joint.

Enough of my ramblings for now, but I highly highly highly recommend this one…go pick it up and take it out for a drive on one of these last fleeting summer nights…you won’t be sorry.

(Addendum: If you haven’t heard it, here’s Ray’s cover of Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy”)

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~ by uvasig on September 1, 2006.

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