Ray LaMontagne doesn't deviate that far from the singer-songwriter norm. There are elements of and a familiarity with classic artists all over Trouble. Yet, none of it sounds tired and stale, mostly due to the emotion LaMontagne pours into his songs and his belief in what he's doing, whether it's original or not. That, his voice, and the material itself all make Trouble the album I've spent more time listening to than any other this decade. A lot of initial comparisons of LaMontagne were to Van Morrison vocally but musically, the album has a lot of similar elements to Morrison's early 70s output. These are folk songs accented subtlety, as strings on the title track and 'Shelter' demonstrate. Producer Ethan Johns does a great job in knowing where the power of the songs lies in LaMontange's emotional delivery, highlighted by 'Burn' and 'Jolene'. It is in these more intimate songs that the power of the album really comes through and not just because of Ray's voice. I have no real good way of describing it but it creates a visceral reaction that very few albums of this decade have. I really, really like every song here That's pretty much it. If I was going to pick my favorite album of the decade, it would be an album where every song's good. Trouble is that album.
Blogger's aside: No matter how many people want to shit on him, Zach Braff gets some credit on this one. Around Garden State time, I was following Braff's blog and he wrote a little blurb about Trouble. I went and checked it out and here we are. Some of Braff's musical choices I couldn't disagree fast enough with but thanks on this one. Give the guy a break.