LaMontagne's second album opens with 'Be Here Now', a song so stunning and hypnotic that it could free the padlocks on almost any mind. It would be the perfect closer or show-stopper for any album. But as the first track? Well, it leaves the rest of this record with a lot to live up to.

That it doesn't isn't too surprising - magic like 'Be Here Now' doesn't appear through headphones too often - but 'Until the Sun Turns Black' gradually reveals itself to be a retreat that deserves to become a familiar haunt.

While growing the music of his debut 'Trouble' to include strings and horns, LaMontagne still sounds like he's singing under the flashlight on the album's cover. On 'Empty' he tells the man alone story with as much conviction as any legend while on 'Can I Stay' he crafts a man-in-love confessional that's sure to become a secret anthem for many.

Even though you'll spend the whole album thinking that 'Be Here Now' is in the wrong place and that the pacier 'Three More Days' and 'You Can Bring Me Flowers' don't really suit him, your admiration for LaMontagne grows throughout. As does your conviction that unlike so many he's only going to get better with the passing of time.

Harry Guerin