Ray LaMontagne, 'Supernova' (May 6th)
Ray LaMontagne played his biggest shows ever supporting 2010's funky, Grammy-winning God Willin' & the Creek Don't Rise, but the singer was so depressed he considered quitting music. "I was in a bad place," he says. "I only knew how to use one form of fuel, which is, 'Nobody likes me." Coming to that realization led to a songwriting breakthrough, which in turn emboldended LaMontagne to send the demos that would become Supernova to Dan Auerbach, who wound up producing the album. The latter's stamp is on plenty of the expansive, jam-ready arrangements. There are spooky backup choruses, organs and swampy riffs on "Drive in Movies," which features a Sixties Brit-pop melody. But Supernova's highlight is "Pick Up a Gun," a psychedelic acoustic heartbreak waltz with four key changes. "The melody just kept shifting," LaMontagne explains. "I hope it stirs something up. There was a playfulness to the songs, they were just really fun to write. That's different for me."