Ray LaMontagne’s soulful spin on Folk/Pop has made him something of a sensation here and around the world, reaching the upper reaches of the album and singles charts with all three of his albums: 2004’s Trouble, 2006’s Till the Sun Turns Black and last year’s Gossip in the Grain. His songs have been atmospheric fixtures on television and movies, but the biggest indication of his acceptance may well have been when American Idol winner Taylor Hicks chose to cover “Trouble” during the competition.
LaMontagne only began pursuing a musical career a little over a decade ago. The New Hampshire native’s turbulent childhood included poor grades, fights and abandonment by his musician father, which drove him away from music. While working in a Maine shoe factory, he heard the Stephen Stills song “Treetop Flyer” on the radio and was inspired to tap into his natural singer/songwriter talents.
A 10-song demo earned him some opening slots and a publishing deal, which led to the recording of Trouble.
LaMontagne’s busy touring schedule and wide exposure over the past five years helped propel Gossip in the Grain to the No. 3 spot in its first week of release last fall. Utilizing avowed influences like Stephen Stills and CSNY, Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Ray Charles, Otis Redding and Joni Mitchell, LaMontagne comes out the other end sounding like an evocative cross between Joe Cocker, Jesse Winchester and Van Morrison, with plenty of creative quirks for good measure (he’s performed concerts in the dark to avoid the glare of the audience’s attention). While you might not see Ray LaMontagne, you can’t help but be moved by him.
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