If you’re not familiar with the music of Ray LaMontagne, you’re in for a treat. He’s one of my favorite singers, and I had the opportunity to see him in concert last fall.You’ve probably heard his music in TV shows, movies and in commercials, but there’s more to him than what you might have heard in passing. Here’s why I adore him so much!
Hello beautiful (Image via RCA Records)
#1 He’s Multi-Faceted
What exactly is LaMontagne’s genre? It’s a little bit of rock, folk, country and hipster-pop. If you like Van Morrison, The Lumineers, Elliott Smith or Phillip Phillips, you’ll like Ray Montagne. He’s also done some incredible stripped-down covers of songs like Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy”. Basically, there’s nothing this guy can’t sing–he’s even performed a Ray Charles song at the White House!
#2 His Voice Is Phenomenal
LaMontagne has a voice that’s just the right balance of husky, soulful and melodic. He can belt out the most dramatic parts of a tune, only to draw back and sing in a gentle whisper. When he sings a love song, like “You Are The Best Thing”, he sounds completely impassioned, but for a slower and sadder number like “All The Wild Horses”, his voice is a quiet purr. Be still, my beating heart! Nothing’s better than a man with a great voice.
#3 He’s Adorable
LaMontagne is known for being shy, and gives relatively few interviews. In concert, his speaking voice is as quiet and humble as his singing voice is full and lively. But he tells some really great stories, and if you’re lucky enough to get a seat (I went to DAR Constitution Hall in D.C., and the place was completely packed), you can hear him talk about the backstory on some of his songs.
Unlike some singers, who seem pretty cocky, LaMontagne was endearingly uncertain, even as he played and sang beautifully.His music is just as charming–he wrote a song called “Meg White”, pointing out the great qualities of the underrated drummer and wishing he could take her on a date by the sea. That is precious.
#4 His Lyrics are Fantastic
I often feel really anxious and guilty about things, so one of LaMontagne’s songs, “Old Before Your Time”, really struck me. There’s a line that goes “Could it be that I am finally learning?/Learning I’m deserving of love and a peaceful heart/ Won’t tear myself apart no more for trying.” It hit me like a ton of bricks at the concert, how I really needed to take that advice.
Another song, “Winter Birds”, has some of the coziest and most poetic lyrics in any song I’ve ever heard. “The winter birds have gone back again/Here the sprightly chickadee, gone now is the willow wren/ In passing greet each other as if old, old friends/ And to the voiceless trees it is their own they will lend.” No offense, Biebs, but call me later when you write something like that.
#5 He’s King of the Hipsters
He has a beard that would make a lumberjack weep tears of envy. He lives in a farmhouse in rural Massachussetts. He looks great in a vest. He’s all about the music and doesn’t really get the hype that surrounds him. His songs are about nature, being in love with girls and soul-searching. Does he get his hipster crown yet?
The best of Ray LaMontagne in playlist form: