Ray LaMontagne was one of my favorite artists discovered in 2004. I assume many of you have heard of him, being of the excellent-musical-taste variety that you obviously are, but if you haven’t – his debut album Trouble is superb from the first track (Trouble) to the last (the gorgeously sad All The Wild Horses).
Trouble is a standout debut album from one of the most promising new voices in music lately. The album was produced by Ethan Johns, who has also worked with Ryan Adams, Leona Naess, Brendan Benson, Kings of Leon and The Jayhawks. Johns also plays drum, bass, and piano on the release. It is a folk-soul masterpiece.
Even more exceptional than the album, however, is seeing him perform live. I saw him at The Fillmore in San Francisco on April 6, 2005 and was completely, jaw-droppingly blown away. This skinny guy comes walking out on stage, looking as uncomfortable as all get out. Big beard. Quiet voice. Hiding behind his guitar. I almost thought he was going to bolt.
But then he opens his mouth and begins to play.
He has this vulnerable, raspy, velvety, pure voice. He absolutely pours his soul into his music, which is always the most inspiring things you can see in a live show. He feels each word and resonates with each chord.
Here are two non-album tracks that I remember vividly from the show I was at. Both of the recordings are on the quiet side (but not unlistenable by any means), so you may have to turn up the old headphones to maximum. I guarantee it is worth it.
Still Can’t Feel The Gin
I love the lyric, “The jukebox was jumpin’ all over those rhythm and blues. She lets down her hair, just as I’m kickin’ off my shoes.” The way he sang this song, you felt the longing.
Can I Stay?
He ended with this song. The venue went still, as if we were all transfixed in the moment, like you could almost feel the song hanging there above our heads. The spotlight shone on him, with the dust motes swirling in the heavy air. Absolutely beautiful song. I almost felt like I couldn’t breathe.
[update: these links are dead but you can find these songs and many more here]