Whether it’s the soulful groove of “Repo Man,” the bare guitar and haunting lyrics of “Like Rock & Roll and Radio,” or the bright, reflective “Old Before Your Time” that lures you in, Ray LaMontagne’s God Willin’ & The Creek Don’t Rise ultimately resonates as a whole. LaMontagne has a gift for conveying intimacy and achieves a particularly personal connection with listeners here. “Are We Really Through” is breathtakingly heartbreaking; on “New York City’s Killing Me,” the loneliness is palpable. Meanwhile, the title track paints an aging and gritty picture of a cattle driver’s life on the range. It’s this storytelling — along with rich, stirring vocals — that makes LaMontagne’s music so consistently captivating. As God Willin’ sublimely explores themes of love, life, and America’s land with rawness and beauty, it also effectively makes for one of the more exceptional albums of the year.