Music News

Ray LaMontagne

Till the Sun Turns Black, Ray LaMontagne's latest, doesn't voyage into new musical territory. The songs draw from traditional sources such as blues, folk and R&B, using familiar instrumentation (acoustic guitars, strings, brass) to underpin and augment LaMontagne's scratchy voice. Nevertheless, this simplicity only amplifies the impact of the songs, which coalesce to create an emotionally raw chronicle of love and loss. Not that LaMontagne makes the mistake of equating volume with intensity: Throughout "Empty," he hardly raises his voice, yet there's no mistaking the passion behind couplets such as "Well, I looked my demons in the eyes/Lay bare my chest/ Said, 'Do your best/Destroy me.'" This material doesn't constitute easy listening; the tunes clearly take a toll on the singer that anyone hearing it can feel. But the purity of the music made by LaMontagne -- who joins Dos Lobos for an e-town taping at the Boulder Theater and headlines at the Paramount -- causes Sun to shine.
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts