Ray LaMontagne Till the Sun Turns Black

Ray LaMontagne Till the Sun Turns Black
Photo: Dan Winter
For his major label debut, this backwoodsman turned singer-songwriter offered a little Trouble and quietly the Maine wordsmith sold 250,000 copies. No sophomore slump here since the same fire and passion that fuelled Trouble is omnipresent on Till the Sun Turns Black. These songs come from a place deep down inside; the passionate pain rings true throughout. Ethan Johns (Jayhawks) returns to produce this dark document. Most songs feature just the songwriter and his acoustic companion, but with Johns at the controls, subtle strings and other lush layers are added to complement LaMontagne’s languid delivery. Love in all its guises — grateful and painful — is the paint that fills this artist’s canvas and introspection is at the core of his journey. From the soft-spoken, sleepy-eyed opener "Be Here Now,” to the closer "Within You,” a song that speaks of the redemptive power of some soul searching, LaMontagne lays bare his heart. Veering towards the folk spectrum, with a sprinkle of Motown, these 11 tracks show LaMontagne is no one-disc wonder. And, while this songwriter’s flight from working in a shoe factory to writing songs and selling records is complete, his songwriting story has only just begun.

How did you choose the songs on the new disc?
I had 30 songs to choose from and they were all over the place in terms of content and form. Some were traditional country and blues… but those weren’t the ones that were really haunting… that were closest to me… Once we got digging into it I felt if we grouped these ten or 11 songs together it would feel very complete… there was a mood created and sustained from the beginning to the end.

What is that mood?
It begins with looking inward and as the record progresses the songs get more inward until they are in a very withdrawn place. The last three songs, beginning with the instrumental, start to come out of that place of introspection and more looking at what is around you and the broader picture.

What was it like recording at Allaire Studios?
It’s an absolutely amazing studio. It was built in the ’20s by a glass baron. It is built to mediaeval standards, so that every hinge was hammered on the spot… It is absolutely sprawling. You feel like you are walking into a mediaeval village on top of a mountain overlooking the reservoir for New York City. You can hear the fireplace in the recordings in certain parts because we had a fire blazing the entire time. (RCA)