Ray Lamontagne first came to my attention with his 2004 Trouble album which was rooted in the Americana movement and was influenced by Tupelo Honey-era Van Morrison.  It was a very enjoyable album as was its follow up Till The Sun Turns Black.  After that though, Lamontagne disappeared from my radar and I failed to keep up with his music.

Lat year, however, I came across his 2014 album Supernova and sat down to listen to it, pretty certain of what to expect.  I was astonished to find that the album was heavily referencing the kind of blissed-out summer pop that early Pink Floyd used to excel at.  Think Remember A Day, Fat Old Sun, Cirrus Minor and Fearless.  Ouroboros continues in this vein.Ray_LaMontagne_Ouroboros_cover

Opening track Homecoming leads with woozy piano tightly thrummed bass, gently strummed acoustic guitar and whispered vocals to bring sunshine streaming through your speakers. Lamontagne sings about “birdsong tugging at my slumber” and the track is immersed in that half-awake dream state feeling.

Hey, No Pressure rocks things up a bit with a nice crunchy guitar riff and some understated lead work that sounds like it was recorded in a dustbin.  The grungy guitars continue on The Changing Man (not the Paul Weller song) which segues into While It Still Beats, the descending chord pattern of which reminds me of the closing section of Floyd’s Saucerful Of Secrets.  Ouroboros is divided into two parts and part one ends here.

Part two resumes the sleepy summer vibe with In My Own Way whose hazy, drifting melody is like floating in a warm bath.  Another Day turns up that summer feeling but hints that autumn is around the corner.  A Murmuration Of Starlings offers Gilmouresque guitar without launching off into the self-indulgent soloing that Floyd Albums often suffer from.  Wouldn’t It Make A Lovely Photograph sends us home too soon with more breathy vocals and chiming piano.

Ray Lamontagne has shown that it is possible to be influenced by something without becoming derivative.  Ouroboros is a perfect album for a hot summer day or a warm summer evening.  Get out the deckchair, pour a glass of something long and cold and just drift away.

John Scott

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