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Ray LaMontagne Handles Hardship, Heart on New Album

It’s rare that a musician comes along as poignant as Ray LaMontagne. He is America’s own troubled troubadour and his latest album, God Willin’ & The Creek Don’t Rise, is nothing less than a gem.

LaMontagne’s throaty folk-rock vocals are sprinkled with soul and on full display here.

He’s one-part Otis Redding and one-part Kelly Jones of the Stereophonics. His voice so pure and dominating it relegates the instruments around him to bit players.

Voice aside, it’s the songwriting that makes LaMontagne vibrant and keeps him relevant.

From the opening juke joint shuffle riff on “Repo Man” to the final foot stomp on “Devil’s In The Jukebox,” LaMontagne handles hardship and the heart with a knowing hand.

The title track “God Willin’ & The Creek Don’t Rise” is a slow heart-wrenching ode to working your way back home to the one you love.

At 3:09 it feels short, but if were too long it would surely break your heart when LaMontagne sings:

“Is that sun ever going to break, break on through the clouds

And shine down in all its glory onto me?”

“New York City’s Killing Me” is a slow tale of human disregard for others and how it can get to a man.

LaMontagne has grown tired of the bustle and longs for a simpler place.

Everyone has their “New York” that needs escaping and the message resonates well here, on the album’s top track.

Simply said, LaMontagne has lived a little, loved a little and sings about it all better than most.

In fact, there’s not a weak track in the bag, and we are fortunate to live in a time where this man makes music for us.

Ron Harris is a music reviewer for the Associated Press
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.

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