Ray LaMontagne’s Supernova: What You Need To Know
Four years on from the release of his Grammy-winning 4th album God Willin' & the Creek Don't Rise, the singer-songwriter returns next week with album no.5, Supernova. Here’s everything you need to know…
What’s the background?
The 4 years that have passed since the self-produced God Willin'... have been fairly quiet for Ray Lamontagne, though he did appear on ‘O Sleep’, a duet with Irish singer Lisa Hannigan, formerly of Damian Rice’s band, taken from her 2011 Choice Music Award-winning album Passenger. That’s not to say he hasn’t been hard at work, though by his own admission the material for his 5th album took some time to complete.
So what do you do when you’re a Grammy-winning artist struggling with an episode of writer’s block? In LaMontagne’s case he reached out to one of his heroes, Elvis Costello, who reportedly sent him some words of encouragement. “I think that was sort of the turning point” says the New Hampshire-born singer-songwriter, “I just kind of turned off the inner critic, got out of my own way and started making music”.
Who’s producing it?
Although self-producing his last album brought him some success, this time he’s decided to go back to having someone else behind the desk. On Supernova, that someone is the Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach, who handles production duties for the whole album.
What are the standout tracks?
There’s a pretty strong 60s vibe about much of the new record. The album kicks off with the dreamy psychedelia of ‘Lavender’, followed by the gentle strum of ‘Airwaves’, both of which set the tone for what is a pretty mellow album. ‘Pick Up A Gun’ is one the record’s more unusual - but most interesting – tracks, with Auerbach’s reverb-drenched production sounding for all the world like something the late Joe Meek might have turned out in the early 1960s.
Elsewhere the title track ‘Supernova’ shows why the Van Morrison comparisons are justified, which is no bad thing, while a country & western influence shines through on the ‘Drive-In Movies’, sounding like a song the Small Faces might have written, had they grown up in New England rather than London's east end.
Does it deliver?
Overall, while the album’s style isn’t what you would call a radical departure, there is an evolution happening on Supernova that shows a wider range of influences than some of his previous work. That may or may not appeal to his loyal fan base, but after you’ve taken home a Grammy there’s bound to be a re-assessment about where you go next, and on Supernova LaMontagne is experimenting while still being himself. It’s a Sunday morning record rather than a Saturday night one, as you'd probably expect, but the fans should find plenty to enjoy about the new record.
Supernova will be available in hmv stores and from our download store from Monday April 28. You can pre-order it now from your local hmv