Sound — 10
Ray Lamontagne is one of those artists that doesn't fall into any specific category: the majority of this debut album is stripped down acoustic folk-orientated music, that was put together on a shoestring budget originally meant only for the demo tracks. The trouble comes when defining Lamontagne's voice: it is almost like a soul singer who met the likes of Dylan and like what he heard. Breathy without seeming pretentious, it is one of the most original sounds I've heard in a while.
Lyrics — 10
The majority of the lyrics deal with the standard love, loss and friendship. However it is the way they are delived which makes them seem so fresh: the impression that Lamontagne is not making any massive statements with his music, rather he is simply singing for himself is refreshing and genuinely moving. The track "Narrow Escape" stands out in particular: the story of a hunted man and his woman which is stark in it's realism and harsh in it's beauty and is one of the true gems of the album as a result. The tracks "Forever My Friend" and "How Come" show a more upbeat tempo, breaking the album up nicely. However, it is "Burn" which left a lasting impression on me: intensly emotional while still remaining listenable, it is a fantastic song.
Overall Impression — 10
Based on his first album I would say there is nobody quite like Lamontagne making music at the moment: his lasting appeal is in the way that his songs don't try to appeal to people on a comercial basis. It is Lamontagnes remoteness from the world which makes his music so refreshing.