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Inside Ray LaMontagne's sessions with Jim James for his new album

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Jeff Golden/WireImage

Ray LaMontagne scored a Grammy for 2010’s God Willin’ & the Creek Don’t Rise while his follow-up, 2014’s Supernova, topped Billboard’s rock charts. But the soft-spoken singer-songwriter isn’t feeling any pressure for his sixth LP. “I don’t write in any intentional way,” he says. “I just let things happen. I don’t force anything.”

A lot happened last February when LaMontagne joined My Morning Jacket’s mastermind frontman Jim James at La La Land studio in Louisville, Ky. “It was probably the best experience I’ve had in the studio, ever,” LaMontagne says of collaborating with his longtime friend. “It was such a generous, kind, creative, playful atmosphere.”

Those sessions resulted in the eight sprawling meditations that will make up the rocker’s still-untitled new album. Says LaMontagne: “It was about creating a record that I’d want to listen to if I were in the record store discovering albums. I don’t write singles. I don’t write pop songs. I never have. I’m not that kind of songwriter, and I don’t aspire to be. I let whatever creative force just tell me what to do.”

Sonically, it’s another departure for the artist who has dipped into country, psych-rock, and traditional singer-songwriter fare throughout his career. This set sees him lean furthering into space-rock, with echo and reverb. “I’m always excited by music,” he says of his tireless genre explorations. “Whether it’s new stuff or old stuff that I’m just discovering. Just last night I was listening to Velvet Underground’s Loaded and found myself thinking, ‘This makes me want to live forever, so I can always make music.’ It’s such a powerful art form. I’m constantly falling in love, over and over again.”

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