Curious Animal Review: Ray LaMontagne – Supernova
Review: Ray LaMontagne – Supernova
‘Sitting under a Lavender Sky’
After winning Best Contemporary Folk Album at the 2011 Grammys, with his fourth release God Willin & the Creek Don’t Rise (2010), Ray LaMontagne’s own unique brand of folk-blues takes a noticeably bold turn in his fifth studio release, Supernova (2014); experimenting with psychedelic soundscapes and ambient vocal arrangements. From the beginning of LaMontagne’s career, each release has been a watermark of the New Hampshire singer-songwriter’s life; filled with his distinctive earthy vocals and melancholic underpinnings. However, Supernova is quite different, it is a realisation of the cautious optimism in Lamontagne’s last two releases, an optimism that allows the tragic folk hero to look back at his life through rose tinted glasses. Most of the album lyrically, focuses around childhood stories (Supernova), pleasurable memories of days gone by (No Other Way) and constantly asks ‘do you remember the day?’ (Lavender).
It’s no surprise then, that the music is reminiscent of an era now past, from the opening track on the album, Lavender Sky, right through to the title track Supernova, the album evokes the exemplary folk musings of The Zombies or The Byrds. Much of the first half of the album is characterised by ethereal vocal harmonies (Julia), discordant swells (She’s the One) and hallucinatory guitar lines (Pick Up A Gun). Of particular note is the brilliant 9th track Smashing, an aptly named piece, which in many ways pays homage to instrumentation likened to the Beatles.
However, towards the end of the album, LaMontagne’s otherworldly vibes begin to ease. Songs like Ojai and Drive In Movies, although in many ways classic Ray LaMontagne filled with nostalgia and shades of Americana, conclude the album quite unexpectedly. Even the title track Supernova, with its slightly offbeat vocal harmonies, descends into a more Tom Petty based up-beat rock song, not in keeping with the albums brilliant psychedelic first half. In short, Supernova is an excellent album, although it doesn’t quite maintain its momentum the whole way through, it is another great edition to LaMontagne’s growing repertoire; an almost perfect depiction of the singer-songwriters reflections from ‘under a Lavender Sky’.
Word Count: 340