Let’s do an exercise in imagination: there is a shaker where you can put a handful of our favorite musicians, shake them and just one that has something of all of them comes out. Let’s imagine that we want to do it with the essences of American music, that which is called american, a genre in itself, but also a real label in today’s market. We put Bob Dylan, Neil Young, John Fogerty, John Hiatt, Emmylou Harris and Lucinda Williams. They would be more than valid or, at least, favorites of this scribe in that concept of American. A musician like Ray LaMongtane would come out of the shaker.
With a 20-year career, this New Hampshire musician has all the virtues of the songwriters of white moon, those composers capable of offering very sentimental pictures conducive to being listened to in the solitude of deep nights. Like an open country landscape, his best ballads broaden the spirit. A quality that gave good account only more to be known with Trouble, an album published in 2004 that already presented him as a composer of exquisite taste, with that peculiar hoarse voice, staining everything with a strange fragility. Just two examples for newcomers to this musician: the songs Hold you in my arms Y Jolene. Two jewels shining in the sleep.
From there, LaMongtane certified everything that was expected of him: he was a special artist. A musician who was distinguished by his way of dividing the spirit in two with the right thing, without fuss. His following works maintained – and even raised – the level to what is already known: Till the Sun Turns Black (2006) and Gossip in the Grain (2008). The latter is one of those albums that slip into one’s life like those impromptu nights that end up becoming unique. It may not be the best album of that year, nor the best of all that line of sounds from american, but it arrived without warning and, with its stylistic variety, it transformed everything into a better environment. Two other examples for newcomers: You are the Best Thing Y Let it be. The momentum, New Orleans roll, and the open heart ballad. The two pendulums on which this disk swings.
LaMongtane has worked with some of the best crop of the last decade in the american: Ethan Johns, Dan Auerbach (Black Keys) and Jim James (My Morning Jacket). And he has managed to get out of all this mold to offer interesting sound samples, among the psychedelia of Supernova (2014) and the new pop folk in Part of the Light (2018). He is a restless musician, who never loses his character, although he has not always achieved outstanding works, although he is framed within a catalog quite populated by women and men offering a similar sound portion. And yet, it looks big.
Monovision It is the best confirmation of all that has been said. As if it were a cross between Harvest Y Moondance, his latest work breathes open lungs in everything that is the american, understood almost as a state of the soul in a guy like LaMongtane. From beginning to end, it offers a lively and delicate emotional landscape, fully beautiful, with songs as well drawn as Misty Morning Rain (Here and Gone Again) Y I Was Born To Love You and luminous pictures like Summer Clouds, Morning Comes Wearing Diamonds or Highway To The Sun. And, among all the remarkable material, a song that once again brings out all the greatness of Ray: Rocky Mountain Healin ‘.
It is curious how LaMongtane has not had as much prestige in Spain as Ryan Adams, more irregular in his artistic combustion, or Damien Rice, so not very prolific in his falls into hell. And it can be measured face to face with both superclasses. Monovision is a reflection of all its quality, an album that is at the top of the 2020 vintage. A work that reminds us that all the great things about the american resides in a guy like him.