96kHz/24-bit, FLAC; RCA 19075-83789-2 (supplied by www.highresaudio.com)

Long ago, when there were record shops everywhere from high streets to market stalls, it wasn’t unknown to take a chance on a discounted album just on the look of the cover or half-recognition of the artist’s name. After all, for a quid what could go wrong? Trouble is, far too often one ended up with something like this latest release from Ray LaMontagne, with its fusion of – well, almost everything, from wispy ballads to screaming rockers, never quite gelling into a recognisable whole of an album. The sound here is at turns simple and detailed, then dense and almost a bit trippy, with the only constant being the singer’s slightly raspy vocal. The songwriting ranges from hints of mystical prog to ponderous ‘big themes’ in tracks such as ‘No Answer Arrives’. ‘All of us asking the questions and yet no answer arrives.’ It all feels – and sounds – terribly old-fashioned. AE

Sound Quality: 75%

Hi-Fi News Lab Report

While no information was available on the recording of this album, the high-ish noise and ~30kHz bandwidth occupied by guitars, synth and percussion suggest analogue tape, then digitised. Sadly, we can see signs of clipped samples. PM