Gossip in the Grain
Ray LaMontagne shows off a surprising new side on Gossip in the Grain, said Wes Orshoski in Billboard. When the soulful folkie emerged from his Maine farmhouse in 2004 with the emotionally charged Trouble, he seemed a tortured artist in every sense. That debut laid bare a “beaten man, beautifully broke down and busted, full of longing and regret.” On his third album, however, LaMontagne is beginning to see the lighter side and “ready to have at least a little fun.” It is a novel concept for the soft-spoken songwriter, said J. Gabriel Boylan in Spin. Known for plaintive, heart-wrenching ballads, LaMontagne lets loose and “gets a bit more expansive here.” On “You Are the Best Thing,” longtime producer Ethan Johns “turns down the Cat Stevens and pumps up the Sam Cooke,” fleshing out LaMontagne’s sound with female backup singers and “juking his earthy rasp with Stax-y horns.” “Meg White” is a love letter to the White Stripes drummer, complete with a crude, “Stripes-worthy” stomp. Too often, though, LaMontagne falls back into balladry when he could’ve used more time out of his shell, said Greg Kot in Entertainment Weekly. LaMontagne sounds good “even without good songs,” but this album could have used a few more.