Ray LaMontagne's new CD, Till The Sun Turns Black, is a deeply personal and profoundly introspective piece of work. There's no doubt the 300,000+ fans who fell in love with Ray after hearing his critically acclaimed 2004 debut, Trouble, will love this new collection of music. At the same time, "Till The Sun Turns Black," Ray's second collaboration with celebrated producer Ethan Johns, marks a daring push beyond the acoustic roots of his first CD, and into more complex and diverse styles, textures and arrangements.
How do you follow a debut record that achieved out-of-the-blue grandeur on its way to selling a quarter of a million copies? For Maines Ray LaMontagne, its all about shaking up the formula, evading repetition and delivering the unexpected. Till the Sun Turns Black
finds the introspective singer/songwriter complementing his folk-country ways with traces of strings and horns and spooky soulful background voices. Songs like "You Can Bring Me Flowers" and "Three More Days" are the most R&B-influenced, the latter shuffling about ala The Band or Tony Joe White. Despite its brooding lyrics, "Empty" has a rollicking, almost breezy delivery, a perfect balance to either the hushed title track, the unnerving "Be Here Now" or the horn-fortified waltz, "Gone Away From Me." Throughout the 11-song sequence, and especially on the final song "Within You," LaMontagnes voice remains the records most crucial element, as vibrant as it is tattered and as harsh as it is flawless. --Scott Holter