Artist: Ray LaMontagne

Genre: Folk

Notable lyrics:

She lifts her skirt up to her knees
Walks through the garden rows
With her bare feet laughing
I never learned to count my blessings
I choose instead to dwell
In my disasters
I walk on down the hill
Through grass grown tall
And brown and still
It’s hard somehow
To let go of my pain
On past the busted back
Of that old and rusted Cadillac
That sinks into this field
Collecting rain
Will I always feel this way
So empty
So estranged?
And of these cut throat busted sunsets
These cold and damp white mornings
I have grown weary
If through my cracked and dusty
Dime store lips
I spoke these words out loud
Would no one hear me?
Lay your blouse across the chair
Let fall the flowers
From your hair
And kiss me
With that country mouth
So plain
Outside the rain is tapping on the leaves
To me it sounds like
They’re applauding us
The quiet love We’ve made
Will I always feel this way
So empty
So estranged?
Well I looked my demons in the eyes
Lay bare my chest
Said do your best to to destroy me
See I’ve been to hell and back
So many times
I must admit
You kinda bore me
There’s a lot of things
That can kill a man
There’s a lot of ways to die
Yes, and some already did
And walk beside me
There’s a lot of things I don’t understand
Why so many people lie
It’s the hurt I hide that fuels
The fire inside me
Will I always feel this way
So empty
So estranged?

If being in love hurts a man enough to etch something so beautiful in our minds, hearts and ears, I wouldn’t mind falling in love at all.

Ray LaMontagne is an American singer-songwriter, who specializes in writing in Folk and Country songs, and has the hands of an angel and Wordsworth’s brain. He’s got the perfect hipster look, except he’s quite attractive and is a lyrical genius.

‘Empty’ is a romantic song about mourning the loss of a lover, either due to separation or death. The singer feels ’empty’ and ‘estranged’ after he’s been left behind with nothing but the memories of them. He goes to the places they’ve once been, and talks about how the weather that once seemed beautiful when she was around, is killing him now. Basically, he feels left out and is questioning us, the experienced, if he’s always going to feel empty. The answer is – yes. Sorry Ray, the after-effects of love are complicated. What is particularly interesting is the last verse, where he talks about how he’s so accustomed to being in pain that her abandoning him doesn’t affect him all that much. The use of words and the language is all really intricate and ambiguous.

Most folk songs have very few instruments, the most common one being the acoustic guitar, which is what is used here as well. A violin has also been used to accentuate the mood of the song: melancholy. LaMontagne’s raspy, country voice basically complements the song all too well. The song is an excellent song, fairly speaking, and deserves to be awarded with more recognition, if at least not a Grammy. Hopefully, Ray will rise to the top of the charts in the upcoming years; I’m definitely here rootin’ for mah boy!



Artist: Houndmouth

Genre: Alternative Country

Notable lyrics: 

Hey little Hollywood
You’re gone but you’re not forgot
You got the cash but your credit’s no good
You flipped the script and you shot the plot
And I remember I remember when your neon used to burn so bright and pink
A Saturday night kinda pink.

I’ve never heard of the genre ‘alternative country’, but that was how this song was classified and I can’t beg to differ. If at all I could, I’d call the genre of this song ‘folk rock’.

The song’s got a bit of a history behind it.

C. Schnebly was an enterprising young man from Gorin, Missouri who had married Sedona Arabella Miller. T.C.’s brother, Ellsworth, had moved to Arizona for health reasons, and convinced T. C. and Sedona to join him in red rock country. The Schnebly’s built a large two-story home that also served as the area’s first hotel and general store. T.C. saw a need for regular mail service, and organized the little village’s first post office. T. C. suggested the names, Oak Creek Crossing and Schnebly Station, to Washington, D.C., but the Postmaster General at the time had a prejudice for one-word names for postmarks. Ellsworth advised him, “Why don’t you name it after your wife?”

And that was how this place in Arizona, with its red sand stones, got the name ‘Sedona’. Remember, no song is without its significance. Every time I go on a spree collecting more information about a particular song, a genre or an artist, I learn something new and fascinating.

I’ll tell you now folks, this song’s got a great deal of metaphors and a careful reading in between the lines, research and consideration is what it took people to decode this brilliant song. What’s wonderful is how Sedona refers not to a person but the place itself. Apparently, Sedona was a prime area for movie shootings, back in the 60’s, before people went after Los Angeles. John Ford, a renowned director back in the early 20th century, has shot numerous movies in the place, owing to its beautiful plethora of sunset red mountains and natural scenery. The song is a dedication to the magnificence of the beautiful desert and not an aspiring actress back in the black and white era of making movies. After the creation of the now official Hollywood, directors deserted (pun intended) this place, hence the ‘little Hollywood’. How many songs you find have historically significant facts like this one? That’s what gives the song its substance.

I found this tune on Spotify (funny thing, this was categorised as Indie Rock), along the likes of Vance Joy, Angus and Julia stone, with their slightly folk-ish disposition and this song has been a favorite on my ‘road trips’ playlist, ever since. Listening to the song while driving into the orangish pink sunset is almost transcendental.

The video is particularly what caught my eye (I only watched it today). A striking minimalist film with picturesque motel – desert shots, all so relevant to the entire setting of the song, with the band members all happy and cheerful, going about their business and playing chess; a few concert shots in and there you go: a wholesome, eye-catching video with a wonderful dusky theme. If you could capture America in a video, this would probably be it (not that I’m quite sure). The Sean Penn-meets-Louis Tomlinson (yeah, the bloke from One Direction) lead singer kicks things up a notch, just when you thought it couldn’t get any better. Needless to say, the feel-good, retro-esque song is just as remarkable as its other components; The vocals are strong and perfect for the song, the electric guitar so accurate and the introduction of a stronger strums and thicker vocals, with a little help from his fellow band mates makes it ever-the-more appealing. Has the perfect band been discovered now or will they just be forgotten like a thousand other unknown ones? I sure as hell hope not!