Tour de Force

Ray LaMontagne with David Ford

At the Lobero Theatre, Saturday, November

Reviewed by Brett Leigh Dicks

When it comes to musical projection, Englishman David Ford is
unrelenting. Be it in voice or instrumentation, Ford literally
throws everything he has into his music. A song like “I Don’t Care
What You Call Me” might start off with resignation to romantic
fate, but the tone of the song casually builds into an affirmation
of defiance. A harmonica wails and Ford ardently belts out the same
chorus that not so long ago floated in fragile beauty.

While emotional containment propelled the former, it was
instrumental theatrics that conveyed the temper of “State of the
Nation.” A simple guitar line was recorded and looped. Another
guitar line was then added along with a dose of shakers. Sliding
from instrument to instrument, even a bang of his guitar became
entrenched within Ford’s evolving soundscape. It might well be an
extroverted musical display, but Ford perfectly tempers his
enthusiasm and never allows it to become overly indulgent.

Just as Ford gregariously bounded off the Lobero stage, Ray
LaMontagne timidly took to it. With the lights dimmed, LaMontagne
stilled any extraneous banter and allowed his music to be his
passage of communication. And while much of his musical attitude is
communicated through vocals ranging from a gravelly rasp to a
bellowing cry, his onstage presence between songs lay in stark
contrast. A song’s conclusion was often met with a wipe of the
brow, a genuine yet hesitant “thank you,” and a nervous scratch of
his head.

There is an implicit beauty within this contradiction and all
tentativeness disappears when LaMontagne is consumed by the music.
In songs like “Three More Days” he charges his way through an
R&B-infused shuffle and “Trouble” sees the singer/songwriter
bobbing at the microphone with eyes tightly closed as he cries out
the chorus. Despite his passionate servitude to the song’s
delivery, the delicateness of the creator echoes the brooding
temperament of his songs. Ray LaMontagne may well be shy and
reserved, but he unleashes a musical force with which to be


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