Love Letter To A Record: Garrett Kato On Ray LaMontagne’s ‘Trouble’

Many of us can link a certain album to pivotal moments in our lives. Whether it’s the first record you bought with your own money, the chord you first learnt to play on guitar, the song that soundtracked your first kiss, the album that got you those awkward and painful pubescent years or the one that set off light bulbs in your brain and inspired you to take a big leap of faith into the unknown – music is often the catalyst for change in our lives and can even help shape who we become.

In this Love Letter To A Record series, Music Feeds asks artists to reflect on their relationship with music and share with us stories about the effect music has had on their lives.

Garrett Kato – Ray LaMontagne, Trouble, (2004)

Dear ‘Trouble’,

This record really floored me when I first listened to it. I remember sitting in a friend’s car back in Canada on our way back from rock climbing when the first track ‘Trouble’ started. I heard a jangle from an acoustic guitar and a voice that resonated so rich and powerful. Ray Lamontange had perfectly encapsulated a timeless record.

Refreshing was an understatement for me at the time, it was more like a moment that proved to me honest and simple songs were still wanted and needed. I had started writing songs at the time and was trying to understand what makes a song special. This record made me realize, it’s not how cool it sounds or what sample you use, it’s the essence of the human creating the music that gives it the magic. A true uninterrupted moment recorded and captured like a feeling you can always go back to.

‘Jolene’ is the king piece of the record for me and the other songs dance around like pieces on a chessboard. ‘Shelter’ with its powerful chorus and soaring strings gives the element of comfort and warmth with soulful honesty.

The production on this record was recorded on a demo budget with maybe the most important producer of the 21st century – Ethan Johans, son of the iconic Glen Johns. From the panning to the lack of processing, it really must have taken some serious self-control. The level of beautiful saturation and organic harmonics from the vintage gear is oozing out of this record. The softness in the vocals and the unorthodox mixing is what puts this record in a league of its own.

The performances have a very unedited feeling as if they waited for the right moment from the song rather than editing it to perfection. The tempo sways up and down, back and forth – like a dancer moving to just a feeling rather than a metronome.

In essence, this record is a human experience, its flaws you come to love out of moments of vulnerability that unravel like a private conversation you have with loved ones. This is the perfect record and I’m so grateful for it.

Listen to Garrett Kato’s new single ‘Disappearing Light’ here.

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