Ray LaMontagne – Part of the Light
RCA – 18 May 2018
Unlike his 2016 Pink Floyd inspired psychedelic Ouroboros album, Part of the Light finds Ray LaMontagne back on more familiar territory.
It features the sort of tunes folk can comfortably hum along to with choruses and hooks back in favour as evidenced from the start with the sway-along shanty’ish To The Sea, a song about a tranquil trip to the seaside that even has a fa-la-la chorus. Paper Man has more musical and lyrical muscle, an early Elton John-like ballad (albeit with just a hint of Roger Waters) about not submitting to the dictates of the man, while the title track is a dreamily gentle, hushed and breathily sung number about oneness with others, the melodic wash riffing on a tune reminiscent of the theme for the late 60s kids TV series Camberwick Green.
He remains musically drifting among the stars for It’s Always Been You where love song meets a Brian Cox history of the universe and Let’s Make It Last, a strummed space-folk lullaby about not spending your life in a constant hurry with its clear echoes from the Dark Side of the Moon.
Having established a soporific miasma, he shakes you from the trance with As Black As Blood Is Blue which harks back to the snaky and squally shapes of the previous album as he sings about “the light of electric soul”, though, despite that the lyrics might claim, this one’s unlikely to be “all over the Radio.” The same holds true of the bass and organ driven abrasive blues-rock No Answer Arrives that once again nods to Floyd but also delves among the grungier corners of John Lennon’s musical world.
Trapped in-between, one of the album’s loveliest moments, Such A Simple Thing is a simply strummed weary of fighting love song that, gradually introducing pedal steel, drums and organ, returning to earlier imagery in the lines “My heart is like paper, yours is like a flame.” Bolstered by piano, synth and more cosmic guitar, the country colours here return for the final, gradually building Floydian track, Goodbye Blue Sky, an unlikely love song for masochistic pessimists that frames the ‘let me stay beside you’ plea with the downbeat admission that “I could turn any day into gray.” Well, that may been the case with the last album’s murkier musical murmurations, but, for the most, this overwhelmingly lets the sunshine in.
Such a Simple Thing (Live on Later…with Jools Holland)