Ray Lamontagne's 2004 debut, Trouble, was oft praised but managed to slide its way past the elitist crowd. This has worked to the advantage of the singer-songwriter, letting him work on Till the Sun Turns Black without fear of falling victim to the sophomore curse. And the album shows great promise for the singer-songwriter, who steps it up a notch in songwriting and production.
Trouble didn't get much attention until more than a year after it was released. But it did catch the attention of RCA, which released the follow-up. Perhaps the album may have been better off on an indie label: RCA promoted it very little. One of the most impressive qualities about Till the Sun Turns Black was its ability to hit billboard charts based on the grassroots model of the early- to mid-'60s folk singers.
Different from the southern R&B/soul feel of Trouble, Lamontagne takes full advantage of veteran producer/arranger Ethan Johns here. Johns's input includes lush string arrangements ("Can I Stay" and "Be Here Now"), soulful horns, and tasteful keyboard licks ("Three More Days") that build themselves around the intimate, mournful timbre of Lamontagne's voice. The arrangements are minimal, though, creating a soft, atmospheric tone to the record but never taking the spotlight off Lamontagne. Even on barebones acoustic tracks such as "Lesson Learned," the songwriting is much less gritty and more cohesive than his efforts on Trouble. That's evidence that Lamontagne is taking a considerable step forward and consciously avoiding a retread of past successes. It's also an indication that Til the Sun Turns Black should enable Lamontagne to feel comfortable in any direction he takes in the future.
Label: http://www.rcarecords.com/"Three More Days" stream
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