Full disclosure: I love this man’s voice. My father used to say about certain singers that “they can recite a telephone book for all I care, it’ll still keep me captivated”. Well, Ray is one of those singers. Every word sounds like a comfy blanket you wrap yourself into and never want to let go off. That being said, I won’t let this fact influence me too much.
Now, this man has already released several albums, which all have stylistic differences, and this album is no exception. He started out as a more classic singer – songwriter, mixing folk with some Americana on his first albums (“Trouble” and “Til The Sun Turns Black”). His next album, Gossip in the Grain, was still very folky in nature, but the first stylistic changes became more apparent on songs like “You Are the Best Thing” and “Meg White”. He went full on Americana next on “God Willin” and “The Creek Don’t Rise”, before turning to a more psychedelic, experimental feel on Supernova, with the help of Black Keys singer Dan Auerbach. And now there’s Ouroboros.
He again enlisted a producer of name, Jim James, of My Morning Jacket. And boy, does it shine through. Every song has a lavish production, where the psychedelic Americana, for which James is known for, really shines through. Now, it would be a step too far to say that this is merely a My Morning Jacket album with Ray’s vocals. As always, his voice demands your attention, and he makes the music all his own. This on its own is a major achievement, since he could’ve just played it easy and went on from the success he has had with his first two albums. The fact that he keeps choosing to take the hard path, and experiment with his own limits, is admirable by itself.
How does this one rate in comparison to his other albums? Well, it’s hard to say. I still rate his first two above this one, but it’s hard to compare since they sound so majorly different. So, maybe don’t start with this one (although you can, it’s still amazing), but put it on once you’ve fallen in love with the voice.
My favorite track has to be “Wouldn’t it Make a Lovely Photograph”. At the end of the song, when he sings “never gonna hear this song on the radio, but wouldn’t it make a lovely photograph?” you just feel his voice going through your body. It’s lovely, and there is probably no other voice on the planet who can achieve this.
Now, to cap it off, if you’re sitting in your garden this summer, talking to friends, enjoying a drink, thinking this moment can’t get any better… Put on this album. Because it will get better.