Ray LaMontagne - Gossip in the Grain

2009-04-15 17:06
Gossip in the Grain
Come again? Has the bearded folkie favourite finally stepped out of his 'sad bastard' straightjacket and actually started to have fun?

Almost. Opener "You Are the Best Thing" is a brass-draped 70s soul serenade about falling head over heels in love. Relax. Ray hasn't suddenly gone all honey-dripping balladeer on us. His idea of romance comes framed with a bit of a bipolar bite on psyche-folk hangovers "Let it Be Me" and "I Still Care for You" which eavesdrop on Ray the lost lover sidestepping the self-absorption of doomed relationship depressionals like Nick Drake's Pink Moon by popping a copy of none other than Van Morrison's Astral Weeks onto his iPod.

Later old timey country hillbilly jig "Hey Me, Hey Mamma" gives fans of his signature bottom-of-the-bottle rasp their requisite American Primitive fix. But it's the chance to trainspot him channelling the ghosts of John Lee Hooker and Canned Heat's seminal collaboration on an amped up harmonica-hued blues rock jam called "Henry Nearly Killed Me, (It's a Shame)" that's the real showstopper.
"Meg White, you're all right/In fact, I think you're pretty swell, can't you tell?" croons indie folk rock favourite Ray LaMontagne on a spaghetti-Western strung stomp that sounds strangely like he's actually been stalking the White Stripes drummer.

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