By: Sara Bastian
His sixth studio release, Ouroboros embodies Ray LaMontagne’s unshakable, intrinsic drive to follow his unique sound, straying away from the conventional and almost tired, overly mellow drone of the contemporary folk-rock genre. After several of his tracks on debut album Trouble like “How Come,” “Hold You in My Arms,” and “Trouble” were popularized in part for their established, accepted soft rock sound and for their feature on major network television shows and blockbusters, he found an escape from a conformist association, beginning with album Supernova in 2014. Now with the reveal of this new album, which is profoundly reminiscent of the psychedelic rock genre of the ‘60s and ‘70s, LaMontagne gives listeners a fresh take on his sound, blissfully blending vintage rock with a modern chill.
Released on March 4th, the two-part, vaguely named Ouroboros album represents LaMontagne’s current moment in his career – now at that time in life many strive for when he is comfortable to do, name, say whatever resonates with him. We can see this self-assured attitude through the last lyric of the closing song of the album, “Wouldn’t It Make a Lovely Photograph.” He sings “You’re never going to hear this song on the radio,” acknowledging that this song, and even album, will not commercially sell to the masses like his pervious hits did. Collaborating in with My Morning Jacket’s Jim James, LaMontagne firmly believes in the work and produces the album without any apparent greed for it to make it on top charts list.
Album name Ouroboros refers to the ancient Greek symbol of a serpent eating its own tail, and the cover illustrates this idea of cyclicality. The creature eating its own tail could be exactly what LaMontagne is doing, as this experimental album is not exactly foreseen to amount to many buys among new fans or a generation stuck in mainstream pop music. The cyclicality could also refer to a return to this psychedelic era of soft Pink Floyd, Van Morrison (even Led Zep) esque and a sequence of music trends, at least a trend he hopes to stimulate within fellow folk-rock junkies.
The laid-back, but dependable harmonies of Ouroboros successfully mixes serene and assertive vibes to reconcile a died-out active role of psychedelic rock in modern music making. Not completely recreating the rock of Pink Floyd, LaMontagne establishes his own sound that will draw fans in and take them along a melodic remedy.