By Matthew Errico
Photo Courtesy of RCA Records
I just picked up the latest installment in Ray LaMontagne’s growing discography entitled Ouroboros that released on March 4th, and I cannot put it down. The enigmatic artist divided this, his sixth album, into two separate parts with distinct differences in sound. Part one of the album includes the album’s arguably best song “Hey, No Pressure”. This section of the album includes riffs that echo a Hendrix era blues inspired sound. That sound paired with heavy use of doubled vocals and his own unique vocal style lends Part One and the rest of the album a great psychedelic vibe.
This sound is given visual representation in the interesting animated music video produced for “Hey, No Pressure” that is full of natural scenes and geometric imagery put through a sort of kaleidoscope effect. The look is entrancing and furthers the feel of the album as a whole. For those of you that are ahead of the game and already own a virtual reality headset, LaMontagne created a second music video for this track specifically for viewing through one such headset.
Old fans of this truly interesting and inspired artist will feel much more at home while listening to Part Two of Ouroboros, as it has a much larger influence on a more folky sound and somber tone. In the vein of producing this type of sound, there is a lot more incorporation of the acoustic guitar that many fans are used to hearing in his work. The real star of this section of the album is the song “Another Day”. To me, this song is representative of the side as a whole with melancholy lyrics like, “Anyway, there’s really not that much to say, it’s just another day”.
The album from start to finish is a smooth and seamless journey, in which the transition from song to song is unnoticeable to the listener. At the end of the day I’m not sure where this journey brings us, but I do not mind the mystery at all. I find myself still trying to figure out the significance of the album’s enigmatic title Ouroboros which he took from Ancient Egypt and the word itself refers to the iconic image of a snake eating its own tail. Interesting to think about if you decide to give it a listen, and I strongly recommend that you do.
Ouroboros is a complex album deserving of your attention if you’re a fan of indie, folk, or just well made music in general. Ray LaMontagne continues to develop and grow with his sound and while this is definitely a new approach far from being stagnant, there is a lot for core fans to enjoy. For newcomers, you’re welcome. I give LaMontagne and his newest album an 8.5/10 and I will be eagerly awaiting the next release, whenever that may come.