Ray LaMontagne: From Solo Crooner To Pariah Dog Leader

Kevork Djansezian/ Getty Images

[lastfm]Ray LaMontagne[/lastfm] never intended for a Grammy-award winning career in music. He spent his childhood reading fantasy novels in the woods and his young adulthood working at a shoe factory. Music was a toxic reminder of his father, a musician who abandoned his son and family, so Ray avoided the medium for as long as possible. Until one morning, he turned on the radio before work and heard [lastfm]Stephen Stills[/lastfm]’ “Treetop Flyer,” which triggered an epiphany in Ray concerning the power of song and the new direction his life would take. [lastfm]Ray LaMontagne[/lastfm] was in that moment reborn as the gravel-voiced crooner with his heart on his sleeve the world has come to love.

His career took off where it started, with a hit single and debut record of the same name: Troubleplaced Ray alongside contemporaries [lastfm]Iron & Wine[/lastfm] and [lastfm]Ryan Adams[/lastfm], but surpassed them and others with sheer emotion. “Trouble” has all the markings of an instant classic, with hushed denouements and soaring choruses that are at once seductive and heartbreaking.

[lastfm]Ray LaMontagne[/lastfm] wove his otherworldly voice (reminiscent of [lastfm]Tim Buckley[/lastfm], but with the gravity of [lastfm]Tom Waits[/lastfm]) through pained memories and compelling narratives that developed into the finest contemporary folk songs of the last decade. 2006’s Til The Sun Turns Black and 2008’s Gossip In The Grain cemented Ray’s talent, and years of non-stop touring with a full backing band slowly turned the shy singer-songwriter into a full-blown frontman.

So it comes as little surprise that for Ray’s latest effort, the Grammy-award winning God Willin’ and the Creek Don’t Rise, features the Pariah Dogs: Eric Heywood and Greg Leisz on guitars, Jennifer Condos on bass, and Jay Bellerose on drums. God Willin’ is the first collaborative release from [lastfm]Ray LaMontagne[/lastfm], the benefits immediately shown with the tight shuffle of “Repo Man” and playful groove of “Beg Steal and Borrow.” Slant Magazine call the new record Ray’s “strongest, most cohesive album to date,” a title indebted to Ray’s expanded musical troupe and first time as lead producer. Lucky you, then, that [lastfm]Ray LaMontagne and the Pariah Dogs[/lastfm] will perform an exclusive Live On Letterman webcast performance next Wednesday, May 11th, at 8pm EST/5pm PST. Watch it here or on CBS.com. Until then, make sure you pick up Ray’s new album, God Willin’ and the Creek Don’t Rise, and collapse into the soulful croon of a man who chose music over making shoes. I think he made the right decision.

Read more about upcoming Live On Letterman events here

[lastfm]Ray LaMontagne and the Pariah Dogs[/lastfm] – God Willin’ and the Creek Don’t Rise (RCA)
iTunes | Amazon

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