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Releases of the Week: Ray LaMontagne and Wale by zegoldst
October 21, 2008, 1:17 am
Filed under: Releases of the Week | Tags: , ,

Ray LaMontagne – Gossip In The Grain

If you get past the fact that this album is the perfect cure for the sleep-deprived it’s an ideal backdrop for fall weather. Ray’s soulful melodies and genre flexibility are at full force on this album. He moves with ease from soul balladeer to country singer to folk hero.

This album starts off with “You are the Best Thing”, an Al Green-esque soul remedy feel. The horns make the track with their hard hits and growing intensity. His voice however, feels a bit misplaced, as his mellow soothing voice doesn’t quite keep up with the fiery horn section. This is not representative of the rest of the album where he sticks mostly to his folk and blues roots, rarely straying from acoustic guitar and light drums.

Unlike his 2006 release “Till the Sun Turns Black” he is less musically involved and acts more as a singer with a backup band as opposed to singing with the music that surrounds him. The beautifully toned electric guitar is missing and his jazzy feel has run away. Overall, this album would be great for driving upstate to watch the foliage or to fall asleep with a loved one but on a musical level I can’t really find the value. Ray needs to step back and regain control of his music.

Best Track: You are the Best Thing

Wale – 100 Miles and Running

Despite that this is far from a new release I had to do a review of this DC based rapper. As Trevor said last week he is almost a cross of Lil Wayne and Kanye West with his smart rhyme schemes and quick burst smooth flow. I saw Wale perform this summer and can say that it made me happy to see that real hip-hop is still being made today. Although his stage presence wasn’t captured on this album I still feel that this is a gem and will be worth something to anyone who considers themselves a true hip-hop fan.

The album starts off with the Mark Ronson (Amy Winehouse, Lily Allen) produced track “Let’s Ride”, a tight bassy beat that Wale raps over almost sounding to freestyle the entire track. The best track on the album “W.A.L.E.D.A.N.C.E.” shows off Wale’s true style as he glides over the string like disco beat.

Overall, Wale is it. He’s got some time to grow and, hopefully major label pressures won’t kill his buzz as they’ve done with so many others.

Best Track: W.A.L.E.D.A.N.C.E.

-Zach Goldstein

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