Till the Sun Turns Black

( 5 )

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - David Sprague
To put a twist on an enduring adage, this reserved singer-songwriter speaks softly but packs a mighty big punch. On this, his sophomore outing, Ray LaMontagne entrances with his flair for keeping passion burning over a low blue flame, rather than allowing it to boil over -- a mood that's set with the meditative opener, "Be Here Now," which wafts along on a subtle-but-insistent string arrangement and naggingly evocative piano line. Till the Sun Turns Black has a bit more stylistic variety than the New Englander's debut, balancing the gruff, Van Morrison-esque Celt-soul still evident on songs like the affably soft-focused "Barfly" with forays into country-rock and the ...
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - David Sprague
To put a twist on an enduring adage, this reserved singer-songwriter speaks softly but packs a mighty big punch. On this, his sophomore outing, Ray LaMontagne entrances with his flair for keeping passion burning over a low blue flame, rather than allowing it to boil over -- a mood that's set with the meditative opener, "Be Here Now," which wafts along on a subtle-but-insistent string arrangement and naggingly evocative piano line. Till the Sun Turns Black has a bit more stylistic variety than the New Englander's debut, balancing the gruff, Van Morrison-esque Celt-soul still evident on songs like the affably soft-focused "Barfly" with forays into country-rock and the nearer fringes of jazz-pop. He's particularly adept at the former, as borne out by "Empty," an ambling piece that suggests Gram Parsons at his most sentimental. That's not to say that LaMontagne constantly wears his heart on his sleeve. While there's no shortage of emotion in these grooves, he's just as capable of letting loose a wizened stream-of-consciousness, as on the jut-jawed folk strummer "Lesson Learned," or bringing it all back home in the manner of an itinerant bluesman, as on the ambling "You Can Bring Me Flowers." That restlessness, while palpable throughout the disc, never seems like experimentation for its own sake -- it's merely the sound of an artist stretching his wings and taking flight on a vivid, intriguing trip.
All Music Guide - Thom Jurek
If it weren't for his singing voice, so full of smoke and ether, one would be hard-pressed to believe that Till the Sun Turns Black was made by the same man who recorded Trouble just two years prior. Ray LaMontagne takes a brave leap from the rootsy singer/songwriter material of his debut album and does a 180. Once more collaborating with producer and multi-instrumentalist Ethan Johns, the singer-songwriter turns in a highly textured, atmospheric, and subdued performance on his sophomore effort. All the grit and earth in LaMontagne's voice on Trouble, and the basic country-folk and R&B (on the title track) has been swept out like ashes in the morning here. This new set is startling. The reliance on skeletal, delicate string arrangements adds much to the interior nature of these songs. LaMontagne has used the projection in his lyrics and his voice and turned them inside out. He's slower, more subtle, more restrained everywhere here. His lines are economical, full of space and tension, as if they were being performed alone in a room in the middle of the night. Johns' use of strings and keyboards paints LaMontagne's voice and underscores his delivery with a quiet drama that reveals itself inside the listener. Check LaMontagne's opener, "Be Here Now," with the guitar finding its way toward the singer as a quartet of violins, two cellos, and a bowed bass emerge to support his voice in the void of silence Johns creates around it. Johns' piano fills in odd spaces. They don't seem to add up, but they do when LaMontagne's vocal whispers its way forward into that small swelling shadow. On the bluesy "You Can Bring Me Flowers," a horn section is used to highlight and extol LaMontagne's tough lyrics; but there is more Tim Buckley and Tom Rush here than Otis Redding or Sam Cooke, but it's all LaMontagne. The jazzy flute and funky dobro don't sound like country, but more like country-blues from an earlier time. By contrast, the whispering acoustic guitars and strings in the title cut are frames to fit a voice inside, and LaMontagne's does; then shatters it when confessed emotion blurs then shatters the edges. These are songs no one else can sing. LaMontagne's sense of phrase and rhyme are idiosyncratic, never overbearing; he allows the listener into his world, slowly, deliberately; his observations and nearly overwhelming emotion are too big to keep to himself -- as the strings swell, all he can do is moan, then nearly growl, wordlessly. Till the Sun Turns Black is a giant leap forward. LaMontagne reveals himself to be a sophisticated pop artist who can find in simple forms something utterly engaging and communicative. This record could have been made 20 years ago but in another two decades will still sound fresh.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 8/29/2006
  • Label: Rca
  • UPC: 828768332825
  • Catalog Number: 83328
  • Sales rank: 8,212

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1 Be Here Now (6:23)
  2. 2 Empty (5:17)
  3. 3 Barfly (3:55)
  4. 4 Three More Days (3:36)
  5. 5 Can I Stay (3:41)
  6. 6 You Can Bring Me Flowers (4:12)
  7. 7 Gone Away from Me (4:27)
  8. 8 Lesson Learned (4:39)
  9. 9 Truly, Madly, Deeply (1:52)
  10. 10 Till the Sun Turns Black (4:28)
  11. 11 Within You (5:43)
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
Ray LaMontagne Primary Artist, Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar, Vocals, spanish guitar, fender rhodes
Peck Allmond Flute, Trumpet, Euphonium, Mellophonium
Vincent Chancey French Horn
Ethan Johns Synthesizer, Acoustic Guitar, Bass, Dobro, Percussion, Piano, Drums, Electric Guitar, Hammond Organ, Ukulele, Acoustic Bass, Reed Organ, Vocal Harmony
John Medeski Electric Piano, Wurlitzer
Lorenza Ponce Violin
Jack Schatz Euphonium
Christopher Cardona Violin
Jane Scarpantoni Cello, Celli
Antoine Silverman Violin
David Gold Violin, Viola
Rachael Yamagata Background Vocals
Technical Credits
Ted Jensen Mastering
Ethan Johns Programming, Producer, Engineer, Horn Arrangements, String Arrangements, Audio Production
Ray LaMontagne Composer, Horn Arrangements
Matthew Cullen Engineer
Brett Kilroe Art Direction
Lowell Reynolds Engineer
Robert Fulps Engineer
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 5 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Beautiful...just beautiful

    If it's possible, this is better than his first release. Ray's voice is just so beautiful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Ray Couldn't Sound Better!

    I purchased this album the day it came out, and I haven't stopped listening to it since. I loved Trouble and was anxious to hear this one. The sound is quite different, but the addition of strings and horns to some of the songs was a fantastic choice. His voice is haunting and beautiful and full of emotion, and every song on this CD is wonderful. He is truly a gifted singer/songwriter, and I hope this is only the beginning of what Ray Lamontagne has to offer. I would have paid double the cost of this cd--it's that good. Actually, it's better.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 28, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 15, 2009

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 31, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews