Published Jun 23, 2020Ray LaMontagne seems to take solace in the simple things.
Speaking with Exclaim! in support of 2018's Part of the Light, the New England native discussed eschewing the kind of lifestyle celebrity affords in favour of building an old-school hot rod, scooting around the hills of Franklin County and the nearby Berkshires, and recording in his home studio.
He seems to enjoy the simplicity, as evidenced by his latest album, Monovision — a truly singular effort (one proudly produced, engineered, written, and performed by the former carpenter, as mentioned on its album cover) that recalls the single-channel sounds of a bygone era.
Similar to previous albums, the influences — whether it's the Otis Redding-esque ad libs on "Strong Enough," impressionistic folk-rock ("Misty Morning Rain"), and Everly Brothers harmonies — are easy to spot. But LaMontagne seems more centered and confident as a songwriter this time around, imbuing the tunes with a sparseness that makes the whole effort more homemade and intimate. (Although a bit less rousing than previous efforts produced by My Morning Jacket's Jim James and the Black Keys' Dan Auerbach, the songs are distinctly his.)
Although not overly thematic, the album explores the passage of time and the wonders of the natural world. "Hours roll like summer clouds / And summer clouds don't worry about tomorrow," LaMontagne sings on "Summer Clouds." Such a lyric would usually seem like a hippy bromide. But with the majority of listeners stuck inside, it's the kind of statement that offers a bit of respite and allows us, albeit briefly, into LaMontagne's calmer, quieter, and more carefree world. (RCA Records) (RCA)