Back When I Knew It All

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You might not hear them, but Montgomery Gentry’s sixth album is loaded with guest stars. The only audible celebrity on board is “I Pick My Parties” duet partner Toby Keith, but the writing credits are full of songs penned by fellow artists: Terri Clark, Ira Dean, David Lee Murphy, Trent Willmon and Kevin Fowler are among the tunesmiths represented.
That the result still sounds like nothing more or less than a Montgomery Gentry album is a testament to the duo’s talent for discovering songs in keeping with their trademark mixture of brash boisterousness and roughneck philosophizing. That talent makes Back When I Knew It All another solid-enough effort, but it also means much of the album is bereft of surprise or excitement (not one but two songs offer the latest favored country cliché—the old man dispensing free-form wisdom). The highlights here are the breaks from Montgomery Gentry’s successful formula: Late tunesmith Dennis Linde’s “The Big Revival” is a raucous character study, and the title cut is pushed along by a buoyantly Byrds-ian guitar thrum.

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