Folk music can be extremely powerful at times. The subtle use of the acoustic guitar accompanied by lyrics that conjure up goosebumps often produce the simplest melodies that maintain their grasp on the listener’s ears.
Ray LaMontagne, an American singer/songwriter, is no stranger to this subtle method. In every album this man produces (minus his latest, Supernova) he ensures the listener will be hooked from the first note he hits.
LaMontagne’s sophomore record is this week’s Lookback for many different reasons, one of which being the impact that the record had on me after the first listen through. Till The Sun Turns Black, in my eyes, is a masterpiece in its own. LaMontagne uses simplicity to create such a remarkable sound that left me with goosebumps after every track. The central theme of the album is (of course) love, but those stories of love are captured so well that one is almost completely sucked into the vortex that are LaMontagne’s words.
The album opens with “Be Here Now”, a track that starts off with a beautiful piano and guitar melody whichh gradually builds to introduce the suble sound of LaMontagne’s lyrics. As the chorus enters, LaMontagne adds a bit of crescendo to his voice, attributing to the overall harmony between the strings, the guitar, and the piano all at once. It truly is a great intro track.
After that, there’s nothing but great track after great track. One of my personal favorites (and the track that follows “Be Here Now”) is titled “Empty”. The story is just phenomenal, but what gets me every single time is the passion LaMontagne exhibits towards the middle of the song. When you listen to the track, you can’t help but to let that passion pour right through you.
“Barfly” is another one of my favorites because of the soft guitar solo at the end of the song…it really adds to the relaxing feel of the song. “Three More Days” is more of a blues folk song, complete with horns and all. The track also has this tinge of gospel thrown in, LaMontagne tends to do this in a lot of his music. You can really tell what genres influence the tracks on his records.
“Can I Stay” is another love song that relies more on strings than any other track on the album. LaMontagne’s vocals are much more intimate on this track, and I absolutely love it. It’s that slight vulnerability that makes his music that much better. “You Can Bring Me Flowers” is another blues-folk tinged track complete with some great guitar riffs and bass lines.
“Lesson Learned” and “Truly, Madly, Deeply” are tracks that I believe could be fused into one big song. “Lesson Learned” is another one of those tracks that leaves you with goosebumps, this time the passion is almost being yelled out to you. LaMontagne does a phenomenal job singing through the story and engaging the listener from start to finish.
For an album that released in 2006, Till The Sun Turns Black will always receive praise from me. It’s definitely an album that will never get old. The record may only be LaMontagne’s sophomore release, but it sure does capture maturity, growth, and fantastic lyricism that one doesn’t often get the chance to witness.