Review: Here we go again, then. Studio album number eight from Ray LaMontagne is doing him no disservice in terms of that formidable reputation. Taking on the roles of producer, engineer, singer, songwriter and every-instrumentalist for the purposes of this record, words like 'auteur' certainly make sense when talking about 'Monovision'.Enough preamble, onto the main event - 'Monovision' is the perfect reflection of a musician in peak form. When that iconic, throaty voice roars out over the slight-of-hand acoustic guitar plucks of opener 'Roll Me Mama, Roll Me', you're immediately captivated. Tracks like 'Strong Enough' set the tempo much higher, stomping a way through old timey rock 'n' roll tones, standing in complete contrast to the tender refrains and more mournful (or at least reflective) atmospheres of 'Summer Clouds' and 'We'll Make It Through'. To be honest, we're barely worthy.
Review: It's hard to separate Blake Mills the legacy from Blake Mills 'this is what you're listening to right now' whenever you encounter the man in question. This is his fourth solo album since deciding to move out from the shadows back in 2010, but it's the product of lessons and techniques learned from decades of working and producing for big names - Fiona Apple, Alabama Shakes, Perfume Genius, to name but a handful. Over the years he has garnered an exceptional reputation for adding understated but incredibly effective layers of musicality, hence the praise from guitar greats like Eric Clapton. In practice, what that sounds like on this record is a hushed and delicate masterpiece showcasing an accomplished songwriter and instrumental hero at his best. Slick and sophisticated, direct but apparently destined to wander through soft but rich string and piano tapestries.