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Ray LaMontagne – Ouroboros

April 27, 2017

I missed this one when it came out last year (2016).  I really liked LaMontagne’s first album, Trouble, when it came out in 2004.  But for some reason I have not followed his career.

I got turned on to this album when a song (“Part Two – In My Own Way”) was featured on an episode of The Blacklist (S3 · E16 · The Caretaker). The song had a Pink Floyd feel and I had no idea who it was.  I Googled the episode and determined the song was by Ray LaMontagne from his 2016 album Ouroboros.  I listened to the whole album on Spotify and loved it.  I did a little research and learned that this was a joint venture with My Morning Jacket (MMJ)- with MMJ’s Jim James producing.

This album has a wonderful trippy vibe.  If you like Dark Side Of The Moon/Wish You Were Here era Pink Floyd you will like this album.  LaMontagne was clearly going for a pre-digital retro feel.  For example, the songs are deliberately sequenced as side one/side two (although LaMontagne names them Part One and Part Two).  Part One is the heavy rock side and Part Two is the mellower side.

The sonics of the album have a warm analog feel.  I don’t know what the CD or high resolution digital file/stream sounds like, but my vinyl edition sounds fat and airy.   The album cover has a sticker making the bold statement: “The definitive version of Ray LaMontagne’s OUROBOROS featuring exclusive vinyl mastering listening experience.”  It is a gorgeous sounding pressing (and visually pleasing too: brown marble vinyl). I have nothing to compare it with (a Spotify stream is not even a fair fight), but it stands on its own as audio perfection.

Although the backup band is MMJ, they don’t hijack the gig.  It doesn’t sound overtly like a MMJ album with LaMontagne as the vocalist – they have given LaMontagne his own sound. I am now intrigued to check out LaMontagne’s last album which was produced by Dan Auerbach (Black Keys).  But I have a feeling that Ouroboros is something special.

LaMontagne has great pipes as I recall from Trouble, but on Ouroboros his voice is restrained – almost a whisper.  That really works – it enhances the David Gilmour Pink Floyd sound.  A big soulful voice wouldn’t really work in this context.

If I had heard this album in 2016 it would have been on my best of list.


From → Music Reviews

  1. I’ve liked his stuff when I heard it on the radio. But like you, I have not followed him. Hell, I don’t really follow anybody anymore, so no surprise. I’ll check this out, thanks.

  2. Will check it out

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