Top positive review
70 people found this helpful
Thoughtful, Soulful, Cool-as-Cucumber
on August 17, 2010
Letting Ray LaMontagne transport you has never been easier, and new LP "God Willin' & the Creek Don't Rise" is the reason why. His fourth album release - and the first to have him billed in a band context with the excellent Pariah Dogs - sounds rich, organic and sincere.
From the first song to the last the album sounds like the kind of live concert one might stumble upon during a night of bar hopping and count himself especially lucky for having chanced upon.
Things are a little changed this time around. The band is front and center in its support of LaMontagne, justifying their co-billing. Furthermore, he has taken over the production helm from Ethan Johns, taking more control over the final product. The result is sonic textures even more mellowed and marinated than before, allowing the songs maximum ability to catch hold and wield an impression upon the listener.
Even if LaMontagne hits upon a cliched phrases or idea here and there ("New York City's Bringing Me Down") it does not detract.
In fact, his directness and lack of pretense result in his themes - among them heartbreak ("This Love Is Over"), self-preservation ("Repo Man") and breaking free from convention (the husky, awesome "Beg Steal or Borrow") - coming off with ease and precisely-chiseled grace. This results in a set of a songs that are arresting at first listen.
A particular highlight is the sublime, catchy, profoundly beautiful "Old Before Your Time," which has such melodic panache it recalls heyday Elton John and Don McLean. It acknowledges the bittersweet reality of the examined life yet remains optimistic and soothing, one of LaMontagne's specialties. The same can be said of "For the Summer," which features awesome instrumental breaks.
LaMontagne has grown remarkably for an artist only on his fourth studio record. "God Willin' & the Creek Don't Rise" is sure to please fans and earn many converts.