Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Ray LaMontagne - Trouble

I have a prediction – the next big thing will soon be Ray LaMontagne’s debut album Trouble. I bought the album recently and I can’t stop listening to it. It is at times soft, always powerful, and as far away from commercial or pop as you can get. Right away, you will feel the power and emotion in LaMontagne’s voice. Like other popular folk singers, his voice is original and drives his music. But as a folk singer, he will only survive if his song writing is as unique and powerful as his voice – and for LaMontagne, it is.

The album starts off very strong, with the title track Trouble. This is probably the most powerful song on the album - and it works at pulling you in and making sure you stay until the very end. With his raspy voice, you can hear the blues influence. Much of the rest of the album is a little softer; but his voice is never quiet and certainly not boring. There are two exceptions after Trouble to the softer nature of the album – Forever My Friend and How Come. Forever is definitely more upbeat with more than a hint of Latin influence, and How Come is fast-paced and energetic. Sara Watkins of Nickel Creek lends her voice and fiddle to Hanah, a song in the middle of the album that is soft and pure and rooted in bluegrass and country. I don’t think you could find two more perfect voices for this song. Jolene is probably his best piece of song writing, slow but powerful.

The bottom line is that this album is already generating a lot of buzz - and the attention is well deserved. If you don’t get it soon, you’ll be end up being the last on the bandwagon.