Album Reviews

Album Review: Ray LaMontagne - Monovision (RCA)

Reuben Raj
We'll Make It Through

Award-winning singer-songwriter Ray LaMontagne returns with his eighth studio album, Monovision on RCA Records. LaMontagne self-produced, self-engineered the album and provided all of the backing instrumentation.

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Ray LaMontagne by Brian Stowell

Monovision has further cemented LaMontagne’s position as a polished lyricist and multi-instrumentalist following firmly in the footsteps of his hero, Stephen Stills (Buffalo Springfield, CSN). It is a phenomenal album that fits with bourbon in the still of night or coffee in the morning.

Opening track Roll Me, Mama instantly sets the calm and halcyon mood that resonates throughout the 10-track LP. The mellow guitar licks, swish of hand shakers and soft upright bass tones combine with LaMontagne’s signature vocals to ‘lift hearts off the ground’.

The Ray LaMontagne we know well from the Grammy-winning God Willin' & The Creek Don't Rise (2010) outshines himself in I Was Born To Love You. You're the only one I can talk to/The only one I can really read/I know you give because you want to/Don't you think it's time you learned to let yourself receive? Simple gestures that matter... the little things that define love and affection. The late Glen Campbell falls gently on my mind in Old Home Town (1982) when I savour this exceptional semi-acoustic track.

The breath of LaMontagne’s singing style can be appreciated in Summer Clouds and Rocky Mountain Healin’ with its mournful harmonica. A man can get lost in what might have been/Up here in the mountains can be born again Simple and sublime words to reflect LaMontagne’s love for the wilderness and a clear nod to folk legend/humanitarian John Denver.

And how about a lullaby to help mend those invisible scars? Weeping Willow once again shows how LaMontagne can pluck magic out of a simple melody with vocal harmonies that will surely chase the bad dreams away.

Morning Comes Wearing Diamonds continues the message of hope and perhaps a duty to turn love inside; find solace in the outdoors and the community that surrounds us. Coloured leaves blowing in through the kitchen door... I just don't give a damn anymore/About winning, taking sides/Trying to change your mind/I just don't give a damn anymore...

Highway to the Sun ends the album and perhaps silently offers a choice to... start again. Out of loss and suffering, we can begin again. I hear children singin' songs, playin' games/They don't know that growing up is learnin' pain.

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I, myself, will end here with another tumbler of Kentucky Wild Turkey, flip the record over and replay these songs that will gradually take on new life to immortalise the serenity and harmony that one can find in nature and the strength to overcome... 
Had our share of the pain/Of the clouds and the rain/Lean on me and I’ll lean on you/And together, we’ll get through/We always do

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Like the great singer-songwriters before him, Ray LaMontagne has crafted songs in Monovision to transcend generations to come. 

Click here to stream or buy
Released: 26 Jun 2020

Written By: Reuben Raj Reuben is a film and digital photographer who is driven by music in his head. Often seen lurking behind a camera inside the pit of a concert or wandering the streets of China with a blond, Reuben harbours intimate feelings for vinyl records and his Hasselblad SW/C from 1965. He is also the founder of Radio 13.