Thursday, August 31, 2006

Summer's brief respite

Play it: M Ward - Post-War
Play it: Ray LaMontagne - Till the Sun Turns Black
AOL Free Listening Stream - Till the Sun Turns Black

A cloudy day in August in Seattle is rarity (believe it or not,) so when I woke up to to gray skies two days in a row, the latest releases from M Ward and Ray LaMontagne (already firmly in my heavy rotation) made their biggest impact on me. Well, today the sun is back, but I'm still find myself listening to M Ward's Post-War, like it's wrapped up in some sort of UV protective suit. Standout songs like the majestic "Poison Cup" and "Post-War" are quintessential rainy day songs, but then Ward goes and gets all sunny (with the help from some friends) on "To Go Home" (a Daniel Johston cover featuring Neko Case on background vocals) and "Chinese Translation" (featuring My Morning Jacket's Jim James on background vocals.) Full of the early Americana blues and folk we've come to expect from M Ward, Post-War is his most accessible album and his best to date.

If I were RCA, I might have held off the release of Until the Sun Turns Black until at least post-Labor day, not only to avoid the Bob Dylan shadow, but also to capitalize on some cloud cover. I can't help associating listening to The Voice while huddled up inside from the drizzling rain, drinking red wine, and contemplating... something or another. You know what I mean? The way I see it, LaMontagne's beautiful meloncholy just isn't a sangria or white wine kind of sound, and that's not to dog it... heavens no. I LOVE listening to The Voice, but as this week has proven to me, his soulful rasp and lyrical introspection cut much deeper under the benefit of cloud cover.

Anyway, minor quibbles, but I can't help feeling that this effort, while still an enjoyable listen, can't stand next to his tremendous debut. Whereas Trouble felt more intimate, TTSTB is a bit more detached, with extra instrumentation distancing The Voice from my ear. Still songs like "Empty," "Barfly" and "Gone Away From Me" are already LaMontagne classics, and "3 More Days" is a nice Otis Redding-like turn for The Voice. I may have to put it aside, though, until the gray skies come back again... and they always do.

More Lamontagne:
Lullabies left of the dial
Rescue Me Seasons 1-2

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drake leLane said...

M Ward - Post-War

1. Poison Cup
2. To Go Home
3. Right In The Head
4. Post-War
5. Requiem
6. Chinese Translation
7. Eyes On The Prize
8. Magic Trick
9. Neptune's Net
10. Rollercoaster
11. Today's Undertaking
12. Afterword/Rag

drake leLane said...

Ray LaMontagne - Till The Sun Turns Black

1. Be Here Now
2. Empty
3. Barfly
4. Three More Days
5. Can I Stay
6. You Can Bring Me Flowers
7. Gone Away From Me
8. Lesson Learned
9. Truly, Madly, Deeply
10. Till The Sun Turns Black
11. Within You