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Interview:
Ray LaMontagne at Meadw Brook, 5 Things To Know
 

By Gary Graff
ggraff@digitalfirstmedia.com, @GraffonMusic on Twi

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Every couple of years, you can count on a Ray LaMontagne album.

With the exception of one four-year gap at the start of the 2010s, the Grammy Award-winning Massachusetts singer-songwriter has released something new on a two-year cycle -- this year’s “Part of the Light” following 2016’s acclaimed “Ouroboros” as a case in point. Like its predecessors, “Part of the Light” is introspective and richly melodic, as well as one of the most stylistically diverse of LaMontagne’s seven albums.

“Part of the Light” debuted at No. 40 on the Billboard 200 in May while its first single “Such A Simple Thing,” peaked at No. 3 on Billboard’s Adult Album Alternative (AAA) chart. And it’s sent LaMontagne, 45, on the road again, with a special acoustic show lined up for October at New York’s Radio City Music Hall...

• LaMontagne says his only real goal in making “Part of the Light” was “more in the production and bringing the guys together,” meaning a crew that includes the likes of guitarist Carl Broemel, bassist Seth Kauffman, keyboardists Bo Koster and Kevin Ratterman, drummer Dave Givan and, on several tracks, Wilco’s John Sirratt. “If there was any real forethought going on, that’s where it was extended, in pulling the band together and thinking about the players and the overall sound of the record. We have a relationship and we’ve all played together and they’re very sensitive musicians and really good people to have around. I just enjoy being around them on a purely personal, friendship level, never mind the music. The friendships are really important to me, finding people that you can communicate with easily and approach the music, or their life within music, the same way.”

• While “Part of the Light’s” songs aren’t outwardly political, LaMontagne says the times did exert an influence on his writing. “There’s a sense of anxiety to (the songs), some kind of subconscious reaction to how our culture feels to me, which is so strange lately. It feels so sad and so self-absorbed and shallow and mean. The world just seems so vastly different than it did 20 years ago, and not for the better. I know everybody feels it on some level, but I find myself in some ways really withdrawing. I find myself kind of pulling in to protect what I have, meaning my wife and sons, into this little safe place we created for ourselves.”

• In writing, then, LaMontagne finds an almost therapeutic expression. “I think as a writer a lot of your work is almost like yourself talking to yourself. I know that’s how I feel about the songs. It’s trying to comfort me. I find myself thinking a lot about how important every moment you have is, how important your friendships and relationships are and how brief life is and how beautiful and wonderful it is and what a gift it is, and not allowing myself to be pulled away from those essential truths.”

• The new album marks LaMontagne’s return to producing for the first time since 2010’s Grammy Award-winning “God Willin’ & the Creek Don’t Rise.” “I know exactly what I want, so this time I felt I just wanted to go directly to the source and not have any filter between me and the music. My studio is a really nice space to work in, full of natural light. You don’t feel like you’re in a cave. You bring the right musicians and the right engineer in the room and take it from there.”

• LaMontagne is not a road dog; He’d rather stay at home with his family. But he acknowledges that “there are people who want to hear this music, and I’m very grateful for that. I’m very grateful they’ve stuck with me, and they buy the albums and the live audience continues to grow, which amazes me. It seems like more tickets are sold every couple of years when I go out and it just continues to grow slow and steady. I’ve really kind of built this one show at a time -- and I feel like that’s what I’m still doing.”



If You Go:

• Ray LaMontagne and Neko Case

• 7:30 p.m. Sunday, July 1.

• Meadow Brook Amphitheatre on the Oakland University campus in Rochester Hills.

• Tickets start at $39.50.

• Call 313-471-6611 or visit 313Presents.com.

Web Site: www.313Presents.com

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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