November 8, 2010

Ray LaMontagne - "For The Summer" & "Beg Steal or Borrow"

Hello. My name is Mona and I'm a pogonophile. I think the only thing better than a 5 o'clock shadow is an 11 o'clock one... preferably from the night before. In fact, I prefer my musicians the way I prefer my men: scruffy as hell. If you can shower daily yet still manage to look like you haven't showered in a week, things will be explosive between us. Or at the very least, I will laugh at all your jokes, bake you cookies, and/or check out your band. Pleased to meet you. In the immortal words of Bob Slydell, "...the pleasure is all on this side of the table. Trust me."

Enter Ray LaMontagne and his lovely beard that inspired my little musical due diligence. All silliness aside, I always assumed he was just some Starbucks pick of the week and never bothered to do the research. On second thought, he probably is and I would never truly know because I rarely patronize the establishment let alone even drink coffee. Regardless, I heard "For The Summer" off of God Willin' & The Creek Don't Rise (2010) and it definitely piqued my curiosity for other aurally pleasing, non-beard-related reasons. Who knew he was legitimately talented? And if you did in fact know, how come no one told me? I feel like I'm listening to snippets of my favorite Van Morrison, Ryan Adams, Stephen Stills, and Nick Drake elements all at once. Ahh, it's essentially one-stop shopping for the ears... and I don't even like shopping!

Well hey hey, my my! I also love another track: "Beg Steal or Borrow." I really dig this guy's voice and his folk leanings. So much so, his music makes me want to get a spread of land with him, buy some chickens and tend to them. Then, I would bake us a fresh apple pie and leave it on the kitchen window sill to cool as I adoringly watch him from the porch wrangle horses out back just before sunset. There's something to be said about artists who can borrow from their influences without complete and utter replication, put out something relatively watered-down in comparison yet still respectable in its own right. Case in point: here LaMontagne demonstrates that he knows how to channel his inner Neil Young without going too overly Neil Young on your ass. And hey, I love my nasaly Neil Young just as much as the next guy but sometimes I feel like even he himself needs to tone down the Neilness a smidge when he's rocking the mic. No disrespect intended of course, Mr. Young. I am loving that sexy rasp in LaMontagne's voice, it's almost slightly more pleasurable to me than the tiny joy and actual sensation of going in for a nuzzle and feeling that nice, sharp stubble against your nose, lips and cheeks*. But as far as knowing for sure if it really is "better to burn out than to fade away?" ... Neil Young, that one is still very much all you.

*Who are we kidding. Nothing feels better than that... unless maybe it's with Ray LaMontagne after he sings these songs, perhaps.