Ray LaMontagne's radical departure from his successful, gruff-but-soulful folk-rock path begins with the first notes of his fifth album, "Supernova" (RCA). The psychedelic, swirling sounds of "Lavender" immediately make you wonder if you've slipped a Graham Nash CD in by mistake or if you've somehow been teleported to 1969. With the help of producer Dan Auerbach, best known as the singer from The Black Keys, LaMontagne succeeds in ripping down everything from his
"Trouble" days -- replacing it with a more upbeat, more rock-oriented world that embraces both fuzzed-out pop like "Julia" and the sun-kissed, laid-back loveliness of a Neil Young-inspired "Ojai."
THE GRADE B+
BOTTOM LINE Finding a whole new folk-rock approach.