God Willin’ & the Creek Don’t Rise is LaMontagne’s 4th full length album and his debut as a producer with a full back up band featured on the cover. The album starts with a bang as Ray’s strong gritty vocals are in full effect during “Repo Man,” which also does a good job of featuring his new band mates the Pariah Dogs. The opening tune is upbeat, strong, and bluesy as all get out, but the next couple tunes returns Ray to his bread and butter – slow melodic songs with lamenting lyrics. ”New York is Killing Me” is about a man longing for the country while being stuck in the hustle and bustle of NYC, which I cant imagine was a stretch for a boy from the mountains of NH to write. ”God Willin’ & the Creek Don’t Rise” is the album’s title track and features Ray’s trademark voice being balanced by a well placed pedal steel guitar. The first single “Beg Steal or Borrow” picks up the pace nicely and showcases what he and The Pariah Dogs should be doing all the time – catchy folk rock tunes pickled with country guitar riffs. Some of the tunes “Are We Really Through,” “This Love is Over,” “For the Summer” and “Like Rock and Roll and Radio” are solid but just seem to run together as they are all written in the same vein. The album’s second half stand outs are “Old Before Your Time,” which has the same vibe as “Beg Steal or Borrow” and “The Devil’s in the Jukebox,” which provides a more than solid close to the album.
LaMontagne’s newest effort has plenty of good songs to keep fans and newcomers satisfied but there may be a bit too much of the same sound to call this a great album. Songs like “Repo Man” and “The Devil’s in the Jukebox” give you the distinct feeling that Ray and his Pariah Dogs are on to something brilliant but alot of the slower tunes bleed together and begin to drag when listening to the album as a whole. There is nothing here that is unlikeable but hopefully Ray will capitalize on more of the magic with this new band in his next effort.