Ray LaMontagne‘s newest album Part of the Light is a reassertion of values. It is a straightforward, plain-speaking album that doesn’t mince words. He’s taking a stand against hate and ignorance, and equipping the album with the type of storylines that show he’s painfully aware of the forces of evil. The experience isn’t wildly abstract or so incoherent that you can’t follow along; he pens each song with laser-like focus and clear vision so there is no mistaking his point of view.

Lyrically there isn’t anything groundbreaking, but it’s the mood he creates through his production that makes it a poignant vision. It’s straight-laced folk accented by specter-like vocals, but in a couple of instances he takes a detour, adding edgier effects that simulate his growing frustration. For newbies it may not provide the type of bravado needed to turn a skeptic into a fan, but for loyalists it’ll be another example of how the veteran singer-songwriter still has a lot of magic left in his work.

To The Sea

A simple, quiet trip to the sea has shaped his perspective in life-changing ways. It’s a memory that reminds him to take things slow and enjoy the moment. He’s recollecting the feelings and sensations, and his knack for exalting the humble side of life is like a warm blanket on a cold night. The off-kilter harmonies add a charismatic touch, creating an affable campfire-like experience: [LISTEN]

Paper Man

LaMontagne stands by his morals, explaining that he isn’t the type to fold under pressure. He’s lived enough to know that flip-flopping is weak and that the inconsistency can be damning to the soul. It’s all about control and if he relinquishes it to the powers that be then he loses his most prized possession, his voice. Without it he can’t sing his song and share his vision with the world: [LISTEN]

Part of the Light

The light strumming has him contemplating the forces of good and evil. He’s singling out wealth disparity, comparing today’s balance of power to a monarchy. Knowing what he knows and as mentioned in “Paper Man” he isn’t about to start dwindling under the pressure. He’s making a definitive stance and raging against the darkness. A simple statement, but one that he holds close to his heart: [LISTEN]

It’s Always Been You

LaMontagne’s haunting vocals stretch across a sparse landscape, creating a moody atmosphere full of rich emotions. He’s reconnecting with the love of his life and the memory is making him feel new again. Since the moment they locked eyes, he knew that he found the most important person in his life. With the experience fresh in his mind’s eye he’s able to forge on, fearless and inspired: [LISTEN]

Let’s Make it Last

LaMontagne transforms a glass of red wine into music. The warm tones represents a stretching of the imagination as he’s looking to relive a magical experience over and over again. And while the sentiment is cliche he’s able to add his own distinct level of flavor. To keep the moment fresh, he’s imagining every little detail. Time is his enemy and he’s hoping his memories will make the moment last: [LISTEN]

As Black as Blood is Blue

Disillusioned and out of sorts, LaMontagne spirals out of control. He’s slowly losing his mind and the fall down the rabbit hole has him seeing double. The sound is much edgier, which captures his decent into madness. The impact of such a journey is taking its toll and he can’t help but let the insanity manifest. It’s a form of therapy that allows him to understand his collapsing consciousness: [LISTEN]

Such a Simple Thing

Crippling heartache is sending him into a deep depression. He’s recollecting all the moments where he could have been better, and the regret is making him feel heavy with despair. All is not lost, however, as the experience has taught him how to be a better man. He wants his S.O. to tell him whatever is in their heart, and he will do everything in his power to prove his love and worth: [LISTEN]

No Answer Arrives

His anger towards indifference reaches its apex. He’s demanding accountability and wondering when the heroes will arrive. There is an absence of light and with darkness running rampant he is breaking apart. He has so many question, but the lack of answers is sending him into a tizzy. His anguish is getting the best of him, but by airing his grievances he’s hoping that progress will be made: [LISTEN]

Goodbye Blue Sky

The daydreaming has come to an end, and he is mourning over the lost time. It was a long journey that had him delving deep into his subconscious, and now that it’s done he can’t help but feel a little melancholy. The mood is still hopeful as he was able to relive some of the joy he shared with the person he loved most. It was a moment in time, and now that he’s regrouped he’s ready to move on: [LISTEN]