Monovision finds Ray LaMontagne returning home after a prolonged sojourn in the spacy wilderness.
With his Pink Floyd flirtations firmly out of his system, he revives the classic weathered troubadour vibe at the heart of his music.
Working largely alone -- hence the title Monovision, which refers to his singular perspective and doesn't not portend a return to mono -- he crafts a warm, rustic record that plays upon memories of Van Morrison and Cat Stevens while sometimes drifting into the mellower moments of Led Zeppelin.
The opening "Roll Me Mama, Roll Me" certainly evokes the rambling spirit of acoustic Zeppelin but "Misty Morning Rain" is a dewy slice of mysticism straight out of Morrison, and "Rocky Mountain Healin'" could've easily slid onto the second side of Neil Young's Harvest.
These references are there as cultural touchstones as much as specific influences, helping guide the listener through an album that feels as comforting as a hug from an old friend.
Much of the charm of Monovision lies within its coziness.
LaMontagne whittles his songs to their essence but then dresses them in soft strums and gentle harmonies, blurring the lines between the songs in the process.
That's not a bad thing.
The individual tunes hold their own, but Monovision is a record where the whole means more than the individual numbers, since LaMontagne strikes a very specific mood -- one that's reassuring, even soothing -- and then manages to sustain it until the end.