Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Ray LaMontagne - God Willin' & The Creek Don't Rise (2010)

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Ray LaMontagne is another one of those amazing musicians that for some reason, I never pursued until now. I was first introduced to Ray LaMontagne almost two years ago when he performed on Saturday Night Live and reminded of him practically every time I stepped into Barnes & Noble this Fall. God Willin' & The Creek Don't Rise, while LaMontagne's fourth album is his first one with a banking band (The Pariah Dogs), and his first as sole producer. Beginning with the groovy jam-esque "Repo Man", LaMontagne's talents are only aided by the addition of equally talented musicians. The album remains pretty somber throughout but not tiringly so; every once in awhile he throws in a more upbeat song, like "Old Before Your Time", to make sure he's not depressing you too much. But the occasional rewards LaMontagne offers are hardly necessary, his storytelling is richly captivating to keep you listening from start to finish and over and over again.

God Willin' & The Creek Don't Rise might very well be the most engaging folk album you'll ever listen to and yet, effortlessly so. LaMontagne's lyricism isn't heavy on symbolism or figurative language, instead coming off as sincerely natural. The same can be said for the album's flow. Starting with the incredibly uptempo "Repo Man", LaMontagne and his band then reel it back a little, allowing for you to really enjoy LaMontagne's smokey rasp , his descriptive narratives, and the oh-so-subtle way The Pariah Dogs augment each song just so. It's no wonder the album was nominated for not one but three Grammy Awards and won Best Contemporary Album.

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