|Grade: A- | Genre:
Summary: This is an exquisite taste of a great artist in the making.
Ray LaMontagne’s debut effort Trouble sounds like Van Morrison sunk deep in collaborations with Ryan Adams and Damien Rice. His voice has a depth that stretches much more than his 31 years. This is highlighted in the opening track “Trouble” which is sheltered in a quiet tone riddled with raspy kinks that alternates between soaring sparks and subtle flirtations. The track has a unique 70’s flavor that could seamlessly work alongside any of Morrison’s portraits on Astral Weeks.
Trouble was the result of a short two week recording session with renowned producer Ethan Johns (Ryan Adams, the Jayhawks). Like sensitive troubadour Rice, these acoustic pieces are soaked in the universality of love’s pain and longing that should assure him a swooning female following. The album is peppered with these quiet, thoughtful meditations like “Jolene” and “Shelter”. It doesn’t pigeonhole itself into one sound though. The closing track “All the Wild Horses” sounds like it belongs draped behind a scene in an old Western film as the camera pans its way across the dusty plain. “How Come” elevates the tempo to construct this catchy line that echoes through your head.
The album executes perfection with “Forever My Friend”. It enters on a steady strum threading a compelling head swaying beat infused by light and hope. His voice just seems to fall into the contours of this rhythm to amazing effect. While LaMontagne doesn’t catch fire with every track here, his talent lingers throughout. This is an exquisite taste of a great artist in the making. We can only hope LaMontagne continues to grow into the promise he has captured in every corner of Trouble.
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