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Album Review

Ray Lamontagne & The Pariah Dogs, 'God Willin' & The Creek Don't Rise'

August 16, 2010

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New Hampshire native Ray LaMontagne returns with his fourth studio album — and it’s an absolute gem. His first disc to be self-produced and the first as part of a band, it was recorded at his farmhouse in Western Mass. It exudes a homespun, rootsy intimacy as he shares his profound talent for rustic storytelling and a haunting voice that crosses the rasp of Gregg Allman and the spiritual intensity of Richard Manuel of The Band. LaMontagne’s appeal has always been to listeners who know these classic rock-infused artists and can also appreciate his Neil Young influence, which pops up in the poignant “Old Before Your Time’’ and in “For the Summer,’’ an atmospheric ballad about trying to woo back a lover. LaMontagne is all about matters of the heart, whether it’s the soul of “Are We Really Through’’ or the unexpected anger of the sharp-edged “Repo Man,’’ where he snaps, “What makes you think I’m going to take you back — I ain’t your Repo Man.’’ LaMontagne is a complex man who won’t talk about his personal life, so we don’t know how many of these songs are autobiographical, but they touch upon universal themes and they touch deeply. (Out tomorrow) STEVE MORSE

ESSENTIAL “Repo Man’’

Ray LaMontagne & the Pariah Dogs play the Bank of America Pavilion tomorrow and Wednesday.