Ray LaMontagne's career is unquestionably on the ascent.
The Maine-based singer-songwriter's 2004 debut album, "Till the Sun Turns Black," has sold nearly 242,000 copies according to SoundScan, while 2006's "Trouble" has moved nearly 409,000 units. And "You Are the Best Thing," the first single from his new "Gossip in the Grain" -- which comes out Oct. 14 -- is already making headway on the AAA radio charts.
All of that puts some degree of expectation on him, but LaMontagne says it's no big deal.
"I feel pressure," he acknowledges, "but it's really just my own, because I feel so lucky to be able to do this. I just get scared that it's all gonna go away and I'll be looking for a job again and have to work for someone else.
"So, really, the pressure is what I put on myself to do better and be more critical about what I'm doing and never stop being critical of what I'm doing -- so that I'll be able to keep doing it, you know?"
"Gossip in the Grain," which was recorded in England with producer Ethan Johns, features a Detroit-centric shout-out in LaMontagne's paen to "Meg White," the White Stripes drummer. But he says there's nothing particularly deep or sinister about the tune.
"It's one of those songs that just happened," LaMontagne, 35, notes. "I was on the road at the time; it was after a show and we were all out at a little bar having a drink and the White Stripes were on the TV. I'm a big fan of theirs, and it was just something that popped into my head and I write it very quickly.
"I didn't really show it to anybody for awhile, but when I showed it to Ethan he got excited and thought it was really fun and said we had to (record) it. I think it's a pretty good song, at least; I wouldn't want to do a bad song that's associated with (the White Stripes)."
Ray LaMontagne and Leona Naess perform Monday (Oct. 6) at the Royal Oak Music Theatre, 318 W. Fourth St. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $32 in advance, $35 day of show. Call (248) 399-2980 or visit www.royaloakmusictheatre.com.
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