Ouroboros is that very rare recording that is art in its truest form - big and bright, full of emotion and wonder.

Artist: Ray LaMontagne
Label: RCA Record Label
Release Date: March 4, 2016
Duration: 8 tracks, 39:40

‘The ouroboros or uroboros is an ancient symbol depicting a serpent or dragon eating its own tail. The ouroboros often symbolizes self-reflexivity or cyclicality, especially in the sense of something constantly re-creating itself, the eternal return, and other things such as the phoenix which operate in cycles that begin anew as soon as they end.’ - Wikipedia

One could say Ray LaMontagne’s ouroboros is the continually growing and changing music he creates in new and unique directions. As one collection of his music is released another new and exciting offering begins. Early LaMontagne fans would argue this point when recalling the alt-folk-leaning-toward-country sounds of God Willin' and the Creek Don't Rise while not embracing the change in future offerings, i.e. Supernova. But listen to his catalogue chronologically compared to his peers and see him leading the fray to new and exciting musical realms.

Ouroboros has eight tracks divided into two ‘parts’ to represent a traditional LP with two sides. Each of the four songs per ‘part’ meld together as one long piece. At times sweet and soft, at others bold and brash, the collection is as true to his evolution and musical quality as was Supernova. Another leader in musical change management, Jim James of My Morning Jacket (MMJ). both produced and contributed on acoustic guitar, electric guitar, Juno, saxophone, siren, synthesizer and backing vocals. James production shines while the music benefits from the remainder of MMJ playing not only on the album but also supporting LaMontagne on his upcoming tour of Ouroboros.

Part One:

“Homecoming” – A kick drum like a fast heart beat gives initial foundation to a dark piano opening leading to soft acoustic guitar strumming with LaMontagne’s signature, dream-like vocals reciting his prose.

“Hey, No Pressure” – With vocals loud and brash, the electric guitar leads the melody like a heard of ancient, far eastern warring elephants, while the vocals are full of urgency speaking of life’s anxiety and the need to carefully make choices:

‘I hate to see you crumbling (hey, no pressure)
You need to know we are your friends (hey, no pressure)
This life is full of give and take (hey, no pressure, hey, no pressure)
Be careful of the choice you make (hey, no pressure, hey, no pressure)

 Anything you want your life to mean it can mean
Anything you want your life to mean
Anything you want to be you can be
Anything you want to be you can be

 Hey, no pressure’

“Changing Man” – the tone continues with arena-like bold electric guitar.

“While It Still Beats” – showcases LaMontagne’s vocals taking on a dramatic, hard tone underlining the message while later drifting into an angelic chorus to complete the feel. Anthemic and in-line with Pink Floyd compositions at their apex.

Part Two:

“In My Own Way” - soft and gentle with the refrain ‘I’ll spend the day in my own way.’ Truly a very beautiful song, very relaxing, while transporting the listener to some abandoned beach in the Lesser Antilles with its soft and warm tone.

“Another Day” – quickly the snare drum beats to the quiet and carefully sung tune of seasons change just as life’s season’s change.

“A Murmuration Of Starlings” – smooth and meandering instrumental underscoring the feeling of “Another Day”. This is a wonderful bridge between two heart-felt offerings.

“Wouldn’t It Make A Lovely Photograph” – tells the beauty of love and innocence. The ending refrain states the case for the album’s content not being radio-ready with:

Never gonna hear this song on the radio
Never gonna hear this song on the radio
Never gonna hear this song
Never gonna hear this song

Ouroboros is that very rare recording that is art in its truest form - big and bright, full of emotion and wonder.



Scott S Mertens