Music You Don't Know You Like Yet
2008-10-20It was only ten years ago that Ray La Montagne was working in a shoe factory with little to no money to spare. Now, La Montagne has just released his much anticipated third recording titled "Gossip in the Grain," and the anticipation was well-worth the wait. With his touring band in on the recording this time through, La Montagne introduces a myriad of musical traditions throughout - from the front-porch country sounding Hey Me, Hey Mama to the lush balladry of the beautiful I Still Care for You. Making the latter even better are the backing vocals provided by singer/songwriter Leona Naess who also lends her talents to the track A Falling Through. The album opens up with the horn-driven You are the Best Thing--a song that would fit in well in the late 60's as a worthy follow up to Van Morrison's acclaimed Brown Eyed Girl. Perhaps the song that exhibits the most fun is the tribute song Meg White. Apparently, La Montagne has a level of fascination and/or sympathy for the other half of the White Stripes duo. Either way, the song is fun and gives us further evidence of the range and talent of the singer/songwriter. Interestingly, while often characterized as an American Folk singer, only two tracks really fit this genre here. The earthy and slightly veiled Winter Birds is a pleasant albeit long listen while title track is equally edifying, showcasing a variety of stringed instruments as they gradually build to a beautiful crescendo and ending to the entire 10 song set. Overall, there really are no weak songs here as La Montagne and his producer Ethan Johns have come up with a composition of music that is emotionally expansive and that leaves the listener wanting to hear it all over again. ~ Reviewed by Jeff Bouma
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