Best of 2008: #22, Ray LaMontagne

Rank: #22
Album: Gossip in the Grain
Artist: Ray LaMontagne
Label: Stone Dwarf/RCA

Number 22, come on down.  Ray LaMontagne's newest release, Gossip in the Grain, is everything you'd expect of a LaMontagne record- different moods, un-peggable influences and those three or so really standout tracks that you just know will be on every girl you knows' playlist by tomorrow.  It's also got horns, something I was unsure of on first listen, but now think that he should continue in this vein.  The fun, jazzy trumpet background of the opener, "You Are the Best Thing" breaks up a song which would otherwise be cliche, as does the small female chorus in the background.  The brass also breaks up his always-raspy voice to give it a bit more youthful life.

What's fun about listening to Ray LaMontagne is that he doesn't try to embellish what he is.  He's just a guy from the backwoods of Maine, and he presents himself as such.  His songs harken back to simpler times, times that he has somehow been able to remain in, at least mentally, if not physically as well.  Even the incredibly creepy "Meg White", a strange, yet fun tribute to The White Stripes' Meg, provides for an odd throwback to 50s Americana.  It may not be on the same level of 2004's Trouble (and honestly, very few albums are), but Gossip accomplishes what it sets out to do- which is simply be.  For comparisons on this one, please consult Ryan Adams, Matt Nathanson and Pete Yorn.

Best Track: "You Are the Best Thing"

You Are The Best Thing - Ray LaMontagne

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