Ray LaMontagne And The Pariah Dogs

By • Feb 1st, 2011 • Category: By Evelyn Miska Krieger, Featured Review 3, Reviews

Live – Fall 2010
RCA
5 Stars

In many instances, live albums often only appeal to the die-hard fan; the fan that has every other scrap of music by an artist and celebrates their entire catalog. However, many listeners find live recordings less interesting since the often provide a chance for artists to spin off and play less-popular pieces, talk too much or be disappointing when an artist doesn’t sound as good live as they do on studio recordings. For these reasons it could be easy to dismiss or ignore Ray LaMontagne And The Pariah Dogs’ recent live release, but that would be a definite mistake. Unlike many other live albums, Live – Fall 2010 keeps things simple with little talk and a focus on the music. Yes, it still has that somewhat gritty sound that frequently is found on live recordings, but anything too slick would sound odd with the band’s style. This is one live album worth taking the time to check out.

The collection is a short one, with only five songs and most of them coming from the band’s most recent album, God Willing And The Creek Don’t Rise. “Beg Steal Or Borrow” is exactly what one might expect from a folk-country sort of artist. A little slide guitar, some good melodies and a somewhat melancholy subject. LaMontagne’s vocals add a good dimension to the track with a little bit of grit and a slightly breathy quality. If it weren’t for the audience yelling at the beginning of the track, it could easily be mistaken for a studio recording. “For The Summer” also comes from the band’s most recent album and maintains the feel and tone set with the first track. A little slower and a little sadder, the track is beautiful and even those who don’t normally like folk or country may find the song lovely.

“Henry Nearly Killed Me (It’s A Shame)” completely moves away from the feel created by “Beg Steal Or Borrow” and “For The Summer.” This track pulls out all the stops and delivers a great, rollicking, rock and roll/blues sound for listeners. It translates well from a live version and one can imagine how good the song sounds in person. “Like Rock & Roll And Radio” slows things down again and returns to the mood set early in the collection. Listeners are treated to some pretty guitar melodies and LaMontagne’s wistful vocals. “You Can Bring Me Flowers” adds a little levity to a generally serious album and plays up the country sound. The vocal harmonies and slide guitar are the perfect additions to the song and the fiddle runs nicely over the loping tempo.

It is rare that a live album sounds as good as a studio album to the casual listener, but Ray LaMontagne And The Pariah Dogs manage to create such a thing. Not only is it a good sampler of their music, it manages to avoid the pitfalls that come with most live collections. – EVELYN MISKA KRIEGER

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