“Drive-In Movies,” the last song on Ray LaMontagne’s latest album, Supernova, is a nostalgic ode to the past in an album teeming with retro flourishes: “I miss those drive-in movies/I spent all my childhood years wishin’ that I looked like a movie star.” He could just as easily be talking about the musical artists that shaped his nomadic childhood. The song is also (seemingly) one of LaMontagne’s most overtly personal: “Now I’m grown, kids of my own/I never thought I could be a dad/Me and my girl, we’re goin’ strong/Still the best friend that I ever had.”
LaMontagne has always been a bit of a throwback, an impressively bearded troubadour from another era with a soft spot for the likes of Stephen Stills and The Band. But Supernova, which was produced by The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach, often sounds unearthed from the Summer of Love’s psychedelic treasure chest. “Lavender” is the most obvious homage, its atmospheric, elaborately textured sonic touches bringing to mind Jefferson Airplane at their zonked-out apex.
Yet LaMontagne says the album’s retro-isms aren’t necessarily intentional.
“I just write songs,” he told Billboard when Supernova dropped last month. “When they come to me, those are the ones that come to me. Once I start hearing the record in my head and it sounds beautiful to me, I take the next step and try to make the record and hope it sounds like it does in my head.”
Apparently his head is in 1968.
RAY LAMONTAGNE will play PNC Pavillion at Riverbend at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, June 14. Tickets/more info here .