Saturday, August 26, 2006

Ray LaMontagne - Till The Sun Turns Black

I've been listening to this album quite a bit as of late. I didn't care much for it the first couple of times I'd heard it. I'm a pretty big fan of his first album, Trouble (you know, with the exception of "How Come", which sounded like he was trying to write a new Buffalo Springfield song or something). The reason I liked that album so much was because there were some absolutely gorgeous songs on it. The entire album was so stripped down...it sounded like he recorded it in his bedroom (probably while crying, but who knows). Songs like "Narrow Escape" (Killed ourselves a woman, that's all), "Burn", "Hannah", and "Jolene" made me fall in love with this album. The songs were so heartbreaking, so soft...I couldn't help but love it. (Apparently I have a thing for sad songs and books. Sharon seems to think it's because I'm generally a happy person, so I need something to balance it out. That makes pretty good sense, I think.)
So imagine how happy I was when I heard he had a new one coming out. "Oh man", I said to myself, "if it's half as good as Trouble, this could be one of the best albums of the year."
Then I listened to it. Oh, how disappointed I was. An opening keyboard line? Electric guitar and bass? Guitar and flute solos in a 6 minute song? Drums everywhere you look? Am I listening to the new Ray LaMontagne or Devendra Banhart?
Alas, it was Ray LaMontagne...
A couple songs seemed promising to me. "Can I Stay?" and "Lesson Learned" reminded me of some of the songs off of Trouble. "Now, if he just do another album with songs like this, he'd be in business".
But still, I wasn't able to give up on it. "Maybe I'm missing something." So I kept listening. By the third or fourth time I forgot what I didn't like about it. Sure, it doesn't sound like Trouble...but isn't that a good thing? Do I want great artists to keep repeating their previous work instead of moving forward?
No. But wht I wanted was this: a progression from Trouble...but a slow one. Not a huge change all at once. I wanted a couple instruments at a time to be added...maybe by his 4th album he'd be ready to go all "hippie rock" (as I proclaimed as I listened to this album for the first time) on us.
The more I listen to this album, the more I love it. And the more I love it, the more I'm glad that, ultimately, artists have control of their work and not me. Because I can guarantee you that, had he released Trouble, Part 2, I would've loved it for about 2 weeks, then said to myself, "Man, I wish he would've done something different."
Long story short: this album is great (or, as the Mayor of the Altered State of Drugachussetts would say, "I declare this album to be...awesome!"). If you liked Trouble, it may take you a little bit to get into. But, if you've never listened to Trouble, or didn't care too much for it, give this album a shot. He has now added great muscianship to his already amazing songwriting. Keep up the good work, Ray...I'm sorry I ever doubted you.

Essential Tracks: "Empty", "Three More Days", "Can I Stay", "Till the Sun Turns Black"
Current Favorite Track: "Lesson Learned"

Rating: 8.3/10

10 comments:

Will said...

Cool man.

Idris said...

on your scale of 1-10, give us some examples of medium to good ratings. Like, what would be a solid 5 and what's a 10 (other than Lindsey Lohan)?

Kelly said...

This blog thing is a great idea!! I hope you'll at some point write about the Gnarles Barkley CD. :)

Cris said...

Is the album title supposed to be racist? I'm offended. So are my people.

Chad said...

Hey Dust. So I think you did a good job on this thing. I listened to his first album and was a fan, so there you go. After you're done reviewing the Lindsey Lohan album (per idris' request) could you make your way to Paris Hilton? Thanks!

Chad.... Again said...

BTW: Is it just me or does he sound very much like Eli (of "that's all the lumber, that's all the lumber.... that's all the lumber you get. Looks like the builder: man he's got your number. That's all the lumber you get" fame)?

Foo said...

Good call on the blog! Dig the review of Ray Lamontangne. I haven't picked it up yet put planning on it. Any thoughs on the Outkast album? I need more...I think idris suggestion of having a scale is a good idea. Make that happen. You have earned a link in my favs!

Dusty said...

Thanks for reading...
Idris - I'm working on a scale, but I want a good one...not a crap scale, but an actual understandable scale. Easier said than done, apparently.
Kel - Gnarls is coming next (that's tomorrow for those of you keeping track), so keep yr pants on.
Cris - It is racist...you gotta problem wit' dat?
Chad - It's a bit possible that he sounds like Eli Lumber...but not enough for me to ever think of it on my own. Ray's a little more raspy than Eli, I think. It's been a while since I've listened to him, though.
Foo - I have no idea who you are, but it's cool that you've read. Hope you keep reading/liking it. I haven't mapped out my reviews yet, but I think Outkast should be coming within the next couple of weeks. I think it'll go Gnarls, Dylan, Outkast. Short review, though: I really like it, for the most part. I don't want to give too much away, or you won't read...

Buck Fifty said...

This violates rule three of my Three Rules of Music.

3. Never listen to anything you can't pronounce.

LAY-MON-TAG-NEE?

LAH-MAN-TAN-YEA?

I have no idea.

Rules 1 and 2? Still to be determined.

Dusty said...

For clarification (listen close, Buck Fifty), it's pronounced:
LAH-MON-TANE