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God Willin' & the Creek Don't Rise

Ray LaMontagne & the Pariah Dogs

by Ray LaMontagne & the Pariah Dogs

Feature Records for the week beginning Mon 30 Aug 2010

The billing on LaMontagne's fourth album, God Willin’ & the Creek Don’t Rise, reveals instantly that something new is happening with this project. The record is credited to “Ray LaMontagne and the Pariah Dogs” — the first time that the singer/songwriter has defined himself within a band setting, rather than as a solo artist. In addition, it marks the first time that LaMontagne has taken on the role of producer. And as soon as the music starts, with the Joe Cocker-style soul power of the opening “Repo Man,” it's apparent that one of the world's most acclaimed artists has moved into some fresh territory.

Not that he was necessarily in need of a new direction. The album is the follow-up to 2008's Gossip in the Grain, which debuted in the Top Five on the Billboard charts; garnered two 2010 Grammy nominations; earned LaMontagne a coveted slot performing on Saturday Night Live; and continued the expansion of a highly-respected career that began with his first album, Trouble, in 2004.

The line-up of the Pariah Dogs, and their alliance with LaMontagne, is already well-proven and familiar. These musicians—Eric Heywood and Greg Leisz on guitars, Jennifer Condos on bass, and Jay Bellerose on drums—have been working as the singer's touring band for the last few years, and developing into a tight-knit team. Though he had thought about trying to get all of these busy session players together in the studio before, only now did time and circumstance align and make it possible.

Ray LaMontagne has one of the remarkable stories in music's past decade. Since leaving his job in a Maine shoe factory to pursue his calling as a musician, he has released three studio albums and two live EPs, won awards and topped critics' polls internationally, and established himself as one of the most distinctive talents of his generation. His songs have been featured in numerous films and television shows, including multiple performances of his compositions on American Idol.

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