What drives transformation? a sucre / bitter caulderon of fear? A wrenching cliff of uncompromising tragedy? The sheer squamous epithelial and yet permeable giddy gas of love? how about DNA or fate? In the amazing case of Ray Lamontagne, it was all of those things and more.
I was inevitably late to the game due to cold oatmeal sitting on my table, math papers to help with, and photographs to re-touch and post for market (yes I do some stock photography)…I had only heard, correction been yelled at, whined at, and threatened by a good friend to have a listen to Ray Lamontagne for a couple of weeks, but trust…it was a long and wincing two weeks. It wasn’t that I wasn’t interested in learning about my friend’s “avant-auteur voice of a million years ago happening right now in our backyard” per se, I certainly was, But things were getting in the way, one of which was the stomach flu I was stricken with, my body laden with oatmeal the only food item that I could keep down in the safe regions of my stomach. The night after my body had resumed homeostasis, and my children stopped comparing me to the zombie app that they had just downloaded onto my now idle iphone, I decided to put my toes in the provervbial water in order to test out the heat coming off Mr. Ray Lamontagne with a cover of the well known Gnarls Barkley, “Crazy.” I was aghast. Loving the song was easy again, now that I hadn’t heard it in oh, say about 6 months, but what astounded me was Lamontagne’s voice. Never had I heard such as voice. This voice was audio HDR. A sharpened image with nuance and texture that was unlike anything I have ever heard before. A raucous pleasure of sound languising in places that were meant to be exploited and quiet in places that only shone more brightly for their omission. La Montagne is a young-un. At least to me. Born in 1973, Ray had an uncompromising and less than idyllic childhood as the story goes. His father musical and violent turning LaMontagne inward, writing and fighting in his Utah high school. Later working in a shoe factory. The story goes one morning at 4 a.m., LaMontagne heard “Treetop Flyer” by Stephen Stills and wtih an epiphanous decision decided to pursue his singing and songwriting more fully. Amassing 10 songs for a demo he was soon opening for acts such as Jonathan Edwards and John Gorka. .He recorded his first album for RCA in the US and Echo in the UK. It’s trickey when deciding what genre to put Lamontagne in. So far, he’s been labeled folk, but I’d have to add a genre for truth / varied instrumentative / emotive. The man reeks of past trouble, tragedy, introspection, sunshine and immersion from pain into foot-stompin’ soul music. If Ray comes to your town, don’t miss him. I won’t. Beg, borrow or steal to get there. It promises to be cathartic.
Other Freak folk folks to check out: