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Album Review – Ouroboros by Ray LaMontagne

Written by on March 26, 2021

By Arlo Catanzaro

LaMontagne’s Ouroboros is staunchly different from LaMontagne’s other work to which I have listened, while Ouroboros stays within LaMontagne’s traditional sound he also experiments more and creates an album that is truly a journey to listen to. The correlation of lighter jams and LaMontagne’s soft vocals create an ethereal touch to the whole album but at the same time LaMontagne keeps a very rustic feeling to it all with a much grittier guitar sound.

The album is split up in two parts and for me when I see any album that is setup like that it’s a key giveaway that the album is more of a psychedelic album; and that remains true for Ouroboros. This is a kind of album that you have to sit down and get prepared to get lost in it and you can only get the full listening experience when you listen to it completely; you simply cannot listen to only one track.

Part One of Ouroboros starts off soft with the intro track “Homecoming,” LaMontagne vocals ease you in and his guitar creates a beautiful rhythm that works amazingly well with the piano. The track creates a feeling of strapping you in and preparing you; which is much needed    because the second track “Hey, No Pressure”, LaMontagne turns up the energy with the guitar rhythm becoming much more dominant and creating a much more rougher sound to the track. The energy continues to rise in the last two tracks in part one, “The Changing Man” and “While It Still Beats” as LaMontagne creates a climax of energy that he will slowly diffuse in part two. 

Part two to the album has a much softer feeling and LaMontagne is seemingly trying to ease down the power with each track to get back where he started with the softness of “Homecoming.” To me, LaMontagne is trying to musically create an Ouroboros (a serpent eating its own tail) by trying to end the album in the same way it started.

I really enjoyed Ouroboros as it is a very unique album that is harder to find now-a-days. The main album that I can draw any correlation too would-be Pink Floyd’s Ummagumma. While they both use the naming convention by having different parts to their album; the main similarity is the use of softer sounds to create a psychedelic jam. Too often I have seen psychedelic albums that are harsh and while they are still fun, I appreciate a softer album every now and then. Also, the best psychedelic albums combine the harsh and soft like Home by Billy Strings (which won a Grammy). Although softer vocals aren’t for everyone and this album can get repetitive, Ouroboros is well worth the listen.

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