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.
Performance CreditsRay 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 CreditsEthan 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
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
If it's possible, this is better than his first release. Ray's voice is just so beautiful.
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.