When Ray LaMontagne releases an album, he wants it to stick to the walls of your everyday. Whether playing from your smartphone, your car radio or the record-player in your living room, the songs are meant to attach themselves to memories and emotions. This is what the Grammy-winning artist hopes will happen with his latest album, Ouroboros, which he released in April.
“I just hope that [Ouroboros] can find a place in people’s lives,” he says in a phone interview. “I think any artist, whether you’re a musician or a painter or an actor or a dancer … all you can hope for … is that slowly, eventually, [your work] makes its way into people’s lives.”
As he explains in a press release about the record, Ouroboros just came to him.
“I had this vivid dream,” he writes. “I dreamt I was working in my home studio, and the music presented itself to me. I woke up feeling that it was all there, every word and every note.”
LaMontagne made a quick 40-minute demo and sent it to Jim James, the frontman of My Morning Jacket.
“After he heard it,” LaMontagne continues, “Jim told me that that was the album, and I should release it just as it was. It was just me in my studio with no percussion, just guitars and vocals. I resisted the urge to do that.”
What that demo eventually became is not just an album of songs — it’s a cohesive piece of art, or “one thing,” as he calls it.
“I really thought of it as one song, in two distinct movements,” LaMontagne says. “Really, the vinyl is the canvas for it — I always think in terms of vinyl. ... You have this time limit of 40, 45 minutes to work within. ... I think it’s perfect. I think any more than that is too much. There’s just something about … those constraints that appeal to me.”
Hearing LaMontagne talk about his music, one can imagine that he’d like to stand on a rooftop, dropping armfuls of Ouroboros records (or, more safely, download cards) into the hands of people below.
“The really wonderful thing about music [as an art form] is that it’s so easily accessible,” he says. “And if you want to hear something — if you want to feel that way again — you can just grab your phone and within three seconds, you can feel that way again. If you want to see a painting or a dance performance or even a great film ... it’s just not quite the same.”
“There’s something kind of magical about that, about music,” he adds. “Once you put it out into the world, it’s just there. It just exists. And people can access it whenever they want to.”