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4.7 out of 5 stars74
4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 3 August 2006
How refreshing it is when a master producer and a great artist collaborate for a second time , only to reward listeners with a collection of songs that sound nothing like the prior recording. Ethan Johns and Ray LaMontagne hook up to produce one of the real stunning and rewarding discs I've heard this year. Stunning, because how different the disc is from it's predecessor. Overall the recording is a hushed, lush affair with orchestration and simple use of acoustic sounds which at times sound so fluid, yet fragile, that you think the song is about to fall apart. Organ , guitar, flute, you name it, seems that Ethan pulls them all out of the closet for use at the right time. Ray's vocals are far more subdued on this release and he only let's it fly on the radio single, "Three More Days" which relies heavily on a simple funky organ groove that slowly rises into an all out rocking affair with the added bonus of Memphis horns. Because of the song's slow build up, it fits nicely into the mix and doesn't stand out of place. There's flourishes of everyone from George Martin with The Beatles, John Lennon with Billy Preston, Van Morrison's "Astral Weeks" era and Joe Boyd with Nick Drake. The gorgeous Spanish guitar on "Lesson Learned" is of heart breaking stuff which then leads the listener into the only instrumental track, "Truly, Madly, Deeply. The album closes with "Within You" which has to be one of the most beautiful, simple pleads for love and peace in our world since John Lennon and Yoko Ono were doing it in the 70's. Yeah, the lyrics are short and repetitive, but that's the point, to focus our ears on the simple message backed by the New Orleans style horns, ukulele, strings and Ray's amazing voice, which sounds amazingly like a slide guitar on this track. Good stuff!

Stand out tracks for me:
-"Within You"
-"Lesson Learned"
-"Be Here Now"
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on 25 July 2006
Then you should love this! This for me is a real progression from his first album. It is quite simply a beautiful piece of work. The songs follow each other with a real sense of continuation-it isn't a concept album, but it all works. Of course, some of the songs are meant to segue into each other. The join between the penultimate and the last song is so sweet. And the instrumental "Truly, Madly, Deeply" which follows to bitter "Lesson Learned is incredible. The last line of the latter song is sung with such an understated edge of resignation and venomous bitterness. God, this man can sing.

But what I love about his singing is the way he seems to be able convey massive amounts of emotion, yet sound as if he is holding so much back! I don't know how to explain what I mean, but if you listen you'll get it.

There is so much on this album to love. He crosses again (as he did with "Trouble") so many genres, but never sounds as if he's just trying to impress!
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on 10 October 2006
Ray Lamontagne's first album has been relaunched four or five times (but the record company never seems to follow through). As a result Trouble has been out for sometime now and the multiple launches has delayed the release of his second album here in the UK, which is a shame as the sequel- Till The Sun Turns Black, seriously eclipses his debut Trouble, not that Trouble was a poor effort, far from it.

Till The Sun Turns Black sees Ray's vocal delivery coming across a little sweeter and a little less dry than on Trouble, and the instrumentation is far richer, running from a Stax/Memphis Horns backing on a couple of tracks to a muted trumpet that wouldn't sound out of place in a Northern England brass band, then there is the purest simplicity of a guitar and voice (Lesson Learned); then we have a simple string backing on the title track. The overall effect is that the music carries you along without detracting from the Ray's vocal performances.
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VINE VOICEon 6 February 2007
When I purchased Trouble a couple of years ago, I did not think any album was going to equal or better it. Then along came Till the Sun Turns Black.

Yet again Ray LaMontagne delivers an album that is in my opinion faultless. The eleven songs on this album are alot more darker and personal than the first offering and as a result of this are a lot stronger.

At points on this album such as the opening track Be Here Now Rays voice is a whisper that seems almost ghostly against the piano and string arrangments, whilst on songs such as Gone Away From Me his voice changes to almost a plea.

My favourite track on this album has to be track 2 "Empty." the lyrics of this song conjure some amazing imagery and put you in the mind of a truly troubled mind. This is song writing at it's very best.

I saw Ray live at Portsmouth last Saturday and the live version of Empty was amazing I hope there's a live album on the way.

Despite this album being nothing like its predecessor, if you liked Trouble you can buy this album with little risk of dissapointment.

Ray Lamontagne is a singer with no equal and if this current album is anything to go by he's going to get stronger and stronger and long may he last.
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on 25 January 2008
Listen to this album and don't feel for him. I dare ya. This is a very public exorcism of some deep rooted hurt and deep feelings and for someone who suffers from extreme shyness THAT IS A BRAVE THING TO DO. I love his mastery of the music. I love his voice (probably because one of my friends sounds just like him!!) and I love the feeling he puts into every song. That's something that is missing from most new music and it's so refreshing to hear it. If you don't own this album yet - WHY NOT? It's the most amazing album that has been released in a long time. If you're seriously wondering about buying this album after all the reviews visit his myspace page and listen to 3 or 4 (I can't remember how many - sorry) of the songs from the album and let that decide for you.
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on 4 February 2007
After the slow-burn, word-of-mouth hit album Trouble (still winning the plaudits after a massive poster campaign in the UK) Lamontagne takes the fuller-band route on his second album, funking up the mix a little with the organ and horn section on bluesy, rootsy, down and dirty Bring It On Home and plugging in his guitar and pumping it up with more horns on the subtle but cutting You Can Bring Me Flowers.

There's plenty of quiet for those who like their Ray torment-drenched and reflective, but this is a much fuller-sounding album. Clearly he has found a soulmate in alt-country wunderkind Ethan Johns, who brings his production and multi-instrumentalist skills to the mix once more. There's only one bum track on the whole thing - Barfly is the kind of ditty most singer songwriters knock out for their pub residencies, not put out on such a high-calibre collection of future classics. But the lush, soaring, string-soaked, whispered beauty of Be Here Now is worth the price of the album on its own.
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on 2 September 2006
This is just plain and simple a gorgeous record!

The follow up to 2004's Trouble is overall a more hushed affair. Gone are the throaty theatrics of the first album and in its place are quiet vocals, lilting guitars and whispy strings. Produced again by the great Ethan Johns, who also wrote and plays on the album, they have once more come up with a winning formula.

Each track lilts and twirls around the usual subjects of love and loss, emotion and hope, each presented in that special way. Each following on from the last like night follows day.

The quiet vocal and hushed strings of "Can i Stay" and the funky groove of "Three More Days" prove that he is no one trick pony.

Its not often that a songwriter of this calibre graces us with his presence and when they do you just got to let them in and say thankyou.
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on 27 January 2007
I bought this album as soon as it came out - a huge fan having seen him in concert. Wasn't sure at first, but having got to know Trouble so well, it is strange suddenly not to recognise the songs. However, I have played it and played it, and saw The Man again this week (WHAT a star), and the concert was simply fantastic. It wasn't until coming back and playing both Trouble and Til the Sun Turns Black that I realised that the vast majority of what he had played was from his second album and how truly great his songs are. If you even think you like this man's music, then I urge you to buy this album. It's true the production is different, and it's also true that hearing these songs live is the ultimate experience, but don't let that put you off. He is a giant, and so is this album.
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on 11 February 2007
When Trouble eventually hit popular music it was a real fresh breath of air in this impersonal world of music we live in. There was now a musician with real soul, an unmistakable voice that could at times be very rough, but at the same time, very beautiful. I liked it.

The problem with the first album (brilliant as it was) was it was ever so slightly inconsistent.

When I heard Ray'd branched out into a bigger sound with more instruments, I was so sure he'd found a winning formula before that I didn't know whether I'd be happy purchasing it.

However, the 11 songs on Til... perfectly fit together into a throughly enjoyable and very moving 48 minutes of your life.

From the first three songs it's obvious he's gone for a bigger, fuller sound on the second album.

Be here now is a delicate string heavy opener and sets the mood for a more bitter LaMontagne. Three more days is a good old fashioned mix of country, folk, soul and blues.

Can I stay is another example of his voice being showcased by strings rather than the opinion various people have that his new sound is "over produced". It is also profoundly moving and demands to be played again straight away. You can bring me flowers, gone away from me and lesson learned are Ray at his angriest and most revealing.

The title track is another extremly moving song and within you is the perfect ending for an album with no standout tracks.

Some genres of music are meant for certain occasions, feelings and times in a person's life.

The great thing about Ray is that there's so much to choose from and there aren't many innapropriate times to listen to him, compared to most music.
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Having recently listened to, and thoroughly enjoyed, Ray LaMontagne's debut album (Trouble) I determined to get the rest of his back catalogue and see where he went next.

With his second album he has produced a set of songs that at their heart still rely on his rough edged voice and great lyric writing. But whereas on Trouble the backing arrangements were very simple with a limited range of instrumentation that gave a spare sound, here the palette has been expanded to include horns, organs and other treats to provide rich musical textures as backdrops. The arrangements still serve to punctuate LaMontagne's singing rather than overpowering it, and the contrast between his raspy voice and the smooth backing is part of the appeal of the album.

So here we have a set of interesting songs about life, love and loss, written and sung by an ordinary sounding guy who has been there and done it. With interesting but not overdone backing that accentuates the moodiness of the lyrics, it's easy on the ear and has a depth and maturity that a lot of music these days just can't match. Five stars all round, it's a stunning piece of work.
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