Ray LaMontagne and the Pariah Dogs | God Willin' and the Creek Don't Rise

RCA (2010)
By JONATHAN DONALDSON  |  August 24, 2010
2.5 2.5 Stars


Beneath the crusty-mountain-man exterior and the surly attitude toward the entertainment business, Ray LaMontagne wants you to like him. Nobody puts on a vintage wool vest and porkpie hat like that without trying to make you envision old Woodstock and all the back-to-the-hearth simplicity that comes along with it.

Now it should be noted that Dylan crash-landed in Big Pink to escape his celebrity — not to create it. But why give poor Ray such a hard time? The guy has an astounding, sepia-toned voice, one with the world-weariness of Robert Johnson, the mute faithfulness of Little House on the Prairie's Michael Landon, and even the brooding cool of James Dean.

Yes, on occasion, everything that's good and pure about LaMontagne's quest to get back to all of life's Carolinas gets tangled up in genre aping (the New-Orleans-blues-man shtick of "Repo Man") and flat arrangements. His simple songs come closer to eclipsing their clichés and becoming classics when they aren't buttered with dobro and pedal-steel arrangements that sound like afterthoughts. But when you're allowed to get close to the raw artist, you witness something truly special — the staid "Beg, Steal or Borrow," or the wonderfully winsome "Like Rock & Roll Radio." The album is worth buying for the scenery alone, with enough mountains and sunsets to pull you out of your city-kid glibness.

Related: Local luminaries’ picks, The Low Anthem visit the Low Countries, Maine Songwriters Association ramps up, Pat Colwell's record, and more, More more >
  Topics: CD Reviews , Entertainment, Music, Portland,  More more >
| More

Most Popular
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   THE UNIFIED MELODY OF SLOWDIM  |  March 20, 2013
    Slowdim drink wine with pizza. It's true. I was there.
  •   THE MARY ONETTES | HIT THE WAVES  |  March 13, 2013
    Hit the Waves is so heartfelt as a pastiche of '80s alternative music that it almost muscles its way into being brilliant.
  •   THE MODERN RETRO OF JESSE DEE  |  March 05, 2013
    On his new record On My Mind/In My Heart , the question is not if Jesse Dee can step up to the challenge of making authentic soul and R&B music in 2013, but rather how he goes about it.
  •   TAME IMPALA’S NEW SURROUND SOUND  |  March 08, 2013
    Whether it's Bradford Cox with Deerhunter, or Dan Snaith with Caribou, or Kevin Parker with Tame Impala, there must be something with this trend in sonic auteurs with cervine band names.
    "It seems like a challenge to make something that you have to pay a lot of attention to," says Josh Dibbs.

 See all articles by: JONATHAN DONALDSON