Ray LaMontagne was born in New Hampshire, but as he put it, his family was "just passing through." His parents split up shortly after his birth, and his mother began a pattern of moving her six children wherever she could find employment and housing, which meant LaMontagne grew up as the perennial new kid in school (when and if he went to school at all). He did graduate high school, however, and found himself working in a shoe factory in Maine when he heard Stephen Stills' "Tree Top Flyer" on the radio. The song amounted to an epiphany for LaMontagne, and he made up his mind on the spot to become a singer and musician.
By the summer of 1999 he had put together a ten-song demo tape of his songs, and that demo found its way into the hands of Jamie Ceretta at Chrysalis Music Publishing. The publishing house signed the young songwriter and teamed him with producer Ethan Johns in the studio, resulting in LaMontagne's debut album, Trouble, which was picked up by RCA Records and released in the fall of 2004. With a voice that sounds at times like a huskier, sandpaper version of Van Morrison or Tim Buckley and a tight, emotional writing style, LaMontagne impressed critics with such songs as the title tune, "Trouble," and the cinematic style of pieces like "Narrow Escape." A follow-up album on RCA, Till the Sun Turns Black, appeared in 2006. Steve Leggett, All Music Guide