Ray LaMontagne – Supernova

Ray LeMontagne - Supernova

Ray LeMontagne’s fifth album Supernova

The thought of summer music of late tends to lead to bouncy pop and dance tunes from the likes of Katy Perry, Carly Rae Jepsen or Flo Rida, but the new record from Ray LaMontagne evokes a different kind of summer soundtrack. It takes the sound of summer back to the 60s where he and producer Dan Auerbach (of the Black Keys) infuse retro-folk and psychedelic guitar pop in a sound that comes as a twist from the New Hampshire folk singer.

Songs like Lavender and Smashing are breezy, lounge-on-the-beach tunes that sound like a cross between MGMT and Jack Johnson. Layered but chill. A drastic change from the retrospective songs that made up his last record God Willin’ & The Creek Don’t Rise.

Ray’s approach itself to Supernova seems to have also changed. The singer, who was nominated for Song of the Year at the 2011 Grammys, is somewhat known for being reclusive and shying away from having a public profile.

However, in the promo lead-up to this album’s release, he was prominently featured on social media partaking in Q&As, as well as having had performance spots on daytime and late-night television, and songs featured in primetime. Plus, his album is on sale at Starbucks.

It’s a change that hasn’t gone unnoticed for those familiar with him. Needless to say, in this day and age, the concept of ‘selling out’ is still an issue for some.

So is this Ray LaMontagne’s sell-out album?

Who cares? This album is no more mainstream-accessible than his past music has been and isn’t exactly radio fare. Despite the change in sound, Ray is no worse off with this lightened approached to songwriting and performing, and he sticks with his distinctive raspy vocals and every-man lyrics. (Though his “super!” doesn’t really help…)

She’s The One describes the thoughts and feelings of realizing “oh…She is the one!” while Pick Up A Gun speaks to the other end of that. “I love you/You don’t love me.” The peak of the album comes at the bridge of the title track, where everything falls into place and feels just right when Ray sings “when I’m low well I know who to call.”

The album’s final track Drive-In Movies offers a late highlight as Ray recounts his childhood fantasy of being like a movie star. “I wanna be Brando in the Wild One/I wanna be somethin’ to someone/Cause nothin’ ever happens in this town.”

Supernova is an album made for summer and came just in time to provide the backdrop for an evening on the beach in a folding chair with a 6-pack. There’s bound to be at least one track that strikes a nerve and opens the gate to some reminiscing.
Three stars

1. Lavender
2. Airwaves
3. She’s The One
4. Pick Up A Gun
5. Julia
6. No Other Way
7. Supernova
8. Ojai
9. Smashing
10. Drive-In Movies

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