November 15, 2008

Just Spun: Ray LaMontagne

Gossip In The Grain is Ray LaMontagne's 3rd release, but the first I've bought. I've loved his music since his first album, when a friend told me to check out Ray's myspace page to listen to his songs, and for awhile I had my page playing the title track Trouble.

Getting back into vinyl now, I look forward to his first two album being reissued on vinyl in December.  Some reviewers have criticized this release as something unoriginal from Ray, at times sounding like Ray Charles, and an overall different sound than his first two albums. I'll agree a track or two are right out of the Ray Charles songbook- but what male singer with a raspy voice isn't compared to Ray Charles, and why shouldn't they write a track or two to pay homage? His first two album have been solo records with producer Ethan Johns playing most instruments. This album is with his full touring band and dips into a number of genres.

The feeling conveyed by the cover art, is truly what you hear within.  Standout tracks for me: You Are The Best Thing, Let it Be Me, and Sarah- a perfect first side.
I Still Care For You is beautifully wispy, I would have bought the album for this song alone. Henry Nearly Killed Me (It's A Shame) is an excellent and chunky ridin'-down-the-tracks harmonica-blues song. Also great is the somewhat creepy Meg White- the ode to Jack White's ex wife / White Stripes drummer. It even seems to be a down-tempo White Stripes rip-off of sorts.

Packaging: nice gatefold non-glossy cover with lyrics on the inside. Inner sleeves are poly-lined white paper. My copy has some flaws: a slightly warped disc one, an even more warped disc two, both records are heavily streaked with a film of 'mold release'- at least that's what I've read it is. There's an audible bump through a few minutes of side four, perfectly lined with the small chunk missing from the outer edge of the disc.  It doesn't cause any mistracking and is only slightly distracting- minor gripes that seem to add to a perceived age of the music.

The track You Are The Best Thing has been deleted from the vinyl tracklist on subsequent pressings. The songs have been re-arranged with b-side track Achin' All The Time- an iTunes bonus trackIt's worth noting that You Are The Best Thing was recorded after the album was finished, and added at the last

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