Album Review: Ray LaMontagne – Ouroboros



Ray LaMontagne’s latest record, Ouroboros, does not reflect the roaring singer-songwriter that intrigued me years ago when I heard his debut single. This awful trip of an album may need to grow on me but the fact that the record is sequenced in two parts sounds like the result of two bad EPs crammed together and a highly rushed release. Ouroboros is an 8 song, two part suite, psychedelic acid folk album, and it pains me to say that even with Jim James producing the result is an unexpected, tragic ear sore.

Even if you’re a Pink Floyd or Led Zeppelin lover and enjoy Ray’s earlier music, the two genre’s absolutely do not match. I bet Pink Floyd fans would have a hard time getting through David Gilmour and Roger Waters covering an early Ray song like Trouble, or Jolene. Talk about acoustic turned electric catastrophe.

The opening keyboard effects set a depressing, dark moodand within seconds you can tell that this Ray record is surely to possess a drastic style change from his previous work. Queue the acoustic chords and whispering airy vocals and congratulations you’ve officially entered the world of the biggest disappointment of 2016 in acoustic, singer/songwriter (if Ray Lamontagne is still even considered that style anymore).

Ouroboros could be the soundtrack to a funeral. That’s how depressing it is. When I heard the single Hey No Pressure, my expectations for new peaceful, tender folk songs were completely ruined. A Jim Jame-sized Ray Lamontagne sound is an awful product because it sounds like a bad 80s wannabe disco jive and track two is a perfect example of this with distorted electric guitars and an excess amount of studio elements that vandalize the pure, sweet organic Ray.

The Changing Man continues this wannabe Dark Side Of The Moon remake album and the shredding heavy tone of the electric guitar brings the energy and my attraction to Ray Lamontagne’s music way down. Mainly an instrumental jam, the horribly layered reverb and vocal layers make the one line in this song even more of a disaster than the music is. The rest of the album is either another non-catchy draft of what maybe could turn into a revamped acoustic gem or the jam part of a song which is counted as a different track because Ray was filling the gaps of a plagued project. Hopefully the next Ray Lamontagne album will be a return to folk roots mirroring the path Sufjan Stevens took with Carrie & Lowell.

Scott J. Herman


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