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Published: 2016/05/27
by Lee Zimmerman

Ray LaMontagne
Ouroboros

Jim James’ production influence is especially profound on Ouroboros, Ray LaMontagne’s sixth album, making it the most drastic departure of his career. A hodgepodge of tones, textures and ambient atmospherics, these haunting mood pieces veer dramatically from the dusty veneer that once brought the Grammy winner comparisons to The Band, Van Morrison, Tim Buckley, Stephen Stills and others of a slightly tattered edge. If anything, Ouroboros resembles a Pink Floyd album of their earlier variety, with songs such as “While It Still Beats,” “In My Own Way” and “The Changing Man” suggesting some sort of cosmic illumination. However, there’s also a darker side to several of these songs, which can make a preliminary listen a somewhat intimidating encounter. Nevertheless, LaMontagne takes pains to offer reassurance on the opening track and first single, the aptly named “Hey, No Pressure.” “Anything you want your life to mean, it can mean.” It’s a lesson he’s taken to heart here, given these left-of-center melodies and their freewheeling deliveries. And while it shatters any stereotypes that his earlier albums might have left in their wakes, the album is a testament to both his and James’ willingness to experiment and tamper with the template. It’s little wonder that, given its laborious musings, Ouroboros isn’t an album that fully gels through a single listen. With time, however, it appears quite profound.

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