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Monday, Oct. 27, 2008

Ray LaMontagne

Gossip in the Grain (RCA)

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It's been almost a decade since Ray LaMontagne awoke at 4 a.m. to hear his radio alarm clock playing Stephen Stills' "Treetop Flyer." Something about Stills' lyrics moved LaMontagne deeply; he suddenly quit his job at a footwear factory in Lewiston, Maine, and made a decision to become a singer/songwriter. Based upon his third and latest release, Gossip in the Grain, LaMontagne won't be returning to the assembly line-ever.

This disc warmly welcomes the listener to step into LaMontagne's musical shoes. These beautifully arranged folk, blues and classic country tracks take listeners through storybook lyrics of heartbreak, love, hope and faith. "You are the Best Thing" delivers an upbeat, gospel folk vibe; "Let It Be Me," with its comforting lyrics, soothes the listener during uncertain times; and "Meg White" is one of the coolest songs ever written about a crush. With overwhelming and desirous drums, rock beats and raspy vocals, LaMontagne allows us to peer into his secret fantasy about the White Stripes drummer: "Meg White, such a pretty thing. Saw your face on a cover of a magazine. Someday, I'd like to take a walk with you." When the song is over, you are left imagining how much fun it would be if she accepted his invitation.

In today's world of troubled economic times, harsh reality shows and sludgy pop music, LaMontagne brings us a true gift: a kind spirit wrapped inside unpretentious music. Something about this rare set of qualities leaves the listener reassured that LaMontagne could be as genuine in real life as he appears to be throughout his amazing body of work.


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