Ever since I've started up my music blog, I've come across hundreds of new artists and found a lot that I've liked, and a lot that I haven't liked. But, there are only a handful of artists whom I literally count down the days until I can pick up their new album. This is the case with Ray LaMontagne, whom I've been a fan of since his first release, Trouble.
Gossip in the Grain is his most personal, emotional and well crafted album, and is easily one of the best albums of the year. It comes as an extremely bittersweet release for me, because a number of the songs hit so close to home for me that it literally knocked the breathe out of me during a couple of songs.
Gossip expands the sound of Trouble and Till the Sun Turns Black, building on the sound and feel of both extremely well, while not being boxed into any particular mode - this album represents an evolution in his sound - very similar to what Amos Lee did with his own third album earlier this summer, Last Days at the Lodge. The album opens with horns in the opening track, You Are The Best Thing. The playlist reads like a story - a love story, with all the hurt, joy and love with You Are the Best Thing, Let It Be Me, Sarah, I Still Care For You, and later, with Falling Through. This is the section that is absolutely brilliant, but at times, far too relatable, at least for me.
There are tracks that are easily some of the best that LaMontagne has done thus far. In addition to the aforementioned tracks, Meg White proves to be a fun listen to singer Meg White, of the White Stripes, Henry Nearly Killed Me (It's a Shame), and the title track, Gossip in the Grain. There's a wide variety of emotion and sound, and we see LaMontagne at vulnerable times, and when the cuffs come off and the sound takes right off. With this, there's a wide blend of rock, acoustic, bluegrass and country brought in here to build a fantastic sound.
This album is easily one of the best of the year, and its sure to make a high point on my end of the year lists. Its emotion, energy and spirit sets this far above most of the albums that I've listened to, and proves that LaMontagne is still capable to release better material as his music career ages, and that he is one of the best, and defining musicians of the decade.
I'm particularly excited to see LaMontagne live tomorrow night - he is one of the artists on my priority to see list, and it'll be nice to see his performance live. Gossip in the Grain is due out next Tuesday, October 14th.