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God Willin' & the Creek Don't Rise

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iTunes Review

With a professional alt-country backing group behind him, credited as the Pariah Dogs, Ray LaMontagne might be expected to rock it out a bit more on his fourth studio album, 2010’s God Willin’ & the Creek Don’t Rise. And for a few cuts --  “Repo Man,” “Devil’s In the Jukebox — drummer Jay Bellerose and bassist Jennifer Condos lead LaMontagne to huskier, friskier terrain. But the introspective singer-songwriter doesn’t like to settle with too much commotion. Greg Leisz steps up on pedal steel for the world-weary “New York City’s Killing Me” and you can imagine the skidmarks in the road as LaMontagne floors it back to his country home. He’s at his best when his voice is given the most room to breathe. The old-time country melody behind “Old Before Your Time,” the whispered desperation behind the exquisite “Like Rock & Roll and Radio” and the somber finality of “This Love Is Over” make LaMontagne a broken soul singer who’s got Jesse Winchester and Van Morrison on his mind. With so many fine albums to his name, it’s difficult to declare any album his best, but LaMontagne’s holding his own, if not getting better all the time.

Customer Reviews

Gritty, raw and poignant

As usual, Ray does not disappoint. Streaming this record all week on NPR, I have enjoyed the journey of this record from start to finish. Ray seems to be able to craft each lyric and phrase to convey poignant thoughts and exploring commonality of life experiences. This record opens with the surprisingly aggressive Repo Man - a sharp statement of his view of relationships - and journeys beautifully through themes of loss, life and love. Some records you feel better for just hearing. Everything by Ray has done just that for me. And this, like every other offering by Ray, is no exception. Buy this record. You'll be glad you did.


You would think that by an artist's fourth album their material might seem tired or stale, but this album holds its own among LaMontagne's previous stellar works. I can't get enough of his music... the words and melodies he creates holds a truth that very few musical acts can genuinely deliver.

Amazing Blues and Country with Soul Thrown in for Good Measure

Let me start with this: God Willin' and the Creek Don't Rise is an awesome album. Now that that is done with, if I had to rate this album on originallity alone, it would be pretty midling. Fortunately, quality is also an important part of rating music.

The album is 2 parts country, 2 parts folk, 1 part blues, 1 part soul. In fact, I would describe it as the most faithful melding of classic rock and classic country sounds in recent memory. This may make it hard for fans of either classic rock or country to listen to the album. Some songs are completely one or the other, and so if you can't at least appreciate each genre, this album is not for you. Fortunately, the quality of both songs styles is very high so fans of both will not be dissappointed. Overall the album is full of good songs but the album almost gets stuck in a mid-tempo ballad rut. and only just saves itself. Which is good because it has a bunch of good songs. Now on to the song by song.

Repo Men: Pure soulful electric blues. This is one of my favorites on the album but if you like this song a LOT and hate country the album will dissappoint you. However still a great Black Keys-esqe song.

New York's Killing Me: Just as Repo men was 100% rock this is 100% country. I didn't like it but I'm not a huge country fan so what do I know. It is a solid country song but not my favorite.

God Willin' & the Creek Don't Rise: The melding begins. Very soulful but with strong country flavoring. This song is somewhat unremarkable but it is a good taste of what is to come. Not the bestm, not the worst.

Beg Steal or Borrow: A travelling rock / travelling country mash up and a very successful one at that. Reminds me a bit of Astral Weeks (the song not the album). I really like this song, probably one of my favorites.

Are We Really Through: The vocals and chord pattern would lead you to believe that this is going to be a country ballad but there is no Steel Guitar (thank god... ok maybe thats a bit harsh). The song ends up sounding like a blues / soul ballad. I really feel like this should have been a rising song but they didn't go in that direction so the song doesn't really "go" anywhere. Maybe thats the point. Good but not my favorite.

This Love is Over: Soul and Blues song again. Actual tasteful use of the steel guitar. Almost sounds like a Mo Town Diva's ballad. Pretty good but the placement is bad. The album is deep in a ballad rut at this point.

Old Before Your Time: An almost folksy / bluegrass country song. This song is pretty good but the placement makes this song AMAZING. At this point, the jaunty tempo and upbeat progression is like water to a parched man in the desert. This is great for this song but bad for the album. I know that today people by singles more that albums but that doesn't excuse poor album construction.

For The Summer: Another upbeat folkish Country song. Also its AMAZING. The bluesy hook in this song is great. I loke hearing Ray LaMontagne branching out and doing stuff other than blues and soul (even though I love that style of music). This song sounds like the best of DMB and Nashville mashed up. Really great and probably my favorite song on the album.

Like Rock & Roll Radio: Another mournful song but it avoids the ballad label. Very Folkish. The placement of this song helps it because, while it is really good it would have been lost in the ballad section. The song reminds me of Astral Weeks (again) in a good way. Very good song.

Devil's in the Jukebox: A really cool Blues / Country mash up. A really cool song that ends the album the way it begins. Probably my third favorite song on the album. If you liked the rest of the album you'll really like this.

Overall: This album is very solid, with a bunch of good songs on it. However the greatness of the songs is reduced by poor song placement. The ballad section in the middle not only contains the weakest songs but also a slow, tiring, and boringly consistent pace. Nevertheless, the beginning and end of the album is very good and sometime even great. Thus the album gets 4 1/2 (leaning to 4) stars. The album isn't life affirming. The album isn't a modern classic. Its just a bunch of great songs for blues and country fans that happens to be the best #1 album iTunes has had in a long time.


Born: June 18, 1973 in Nashua, NH

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '00s, '10s

With a voice that recalls a huskier, sandpapery version of Van Morrison and Tim Buckley, Ray LaMontagne joins such artists as Iron & Wine in creating folk songs that are alternately lush and intimately earthy. The songwriter was born in Nashua, New Hampshire in 1973; his parents split up shortly after his birth, and his mother began a pattern of moving her six children to any locale that could offer her employment and housing. As a result, LaMontagne grew up as the perennial new kid in school (when...
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God Willin' & the Creek Don't Rise, Ray LaMontagne
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