Sound: A happier more upbeat Ray? Well maybe for the first song. The new album, "Gossip In The Grain," opens with a quicker paced horn laced track that is a bit of a departure from most of the heart breaking soulful ballads that were seen on his first two records. Ray does not completely leave that familiar style behind, it is still very much present and accounted for, the song "A falling through" showcases that style very well. However, Gossip In The Grain delivers a wide range of sounds. The presence of the slide guitar on a number of tracks gives a very spacial resonance that borders on psychedelic Pink Floyd-esque sounds. Conversely, the term "folk," gets thrown around too loosely when describing genres, but the tracks "Hey me, hey mama" and "Henry nearly killed me(It's a shame)," show exactly what old southern folk music is. All in all, the sounds on this album are vast, but they are all Ray. // 9
Lyrics: Ray has been compared to many of the best song writers ever, in a recent article, John Mayer was quoted as saying, "If you want to know a songwriter's songwriter, and a singer's singer, it's Ray."
I should be writing songs when his CDs are playing. "I do not know what more that can be said about Ray's lyrics. The lyrics are honest and heart felt, and that is all anyone can ask from a songwriter. My personal favorite song on the new album is "Let It Be Me," lyrically I describe it as a modern day reimagining of the classic "Lean on Me." The line, "When all your faith is gone, it feels like you can't go on, let it be me," displays that concept perfectly. Though not all the song are so serious and sorrowful, Ray does have a very tongue and cheek song on the album entitled "Meg White," a nod to the White Stripes drummer. This track is a lot of fun, with lines such as "Meg White, your the bomb, old Jack is great, don't get me wrong, but this is your song." Overall, if you are looking for an album with great lyrics, you are not going to do much better than Ray Lamontagne. // 10
Overall Impression: I would give "Gossip in the grain," an 8/10. I still think that his last album, "Til The Sun Turns Black," is a better all around album, but Ray's newest record does not dissapoint. I have always said that there needs to be a seperate section in record stores titled, "Just Real Music," and Ray Lamontagne would absolutely be deserving of being in that category. Hyperbole aside, "Gossip In The Grain" is well worth your time and money. // 8