When Montgomery Gentry arrived on the scene in 1999, they were the epitome of bad-boy attitude: all scowling looks, lit cigarettes and half-empty longnecks. They backed up that "rebel" image with some fine music, steeped in classic Southern rock but with a contemporary, countrified twist.
Now, two CDs down the road, we find a kindler, gentler Montgomery Gentry, with much of the redneck attitude replaced by roots-solid heartland pride. They still rock - but now they seem to be doing it with a smile.
A good example is My Town's title track, a vibrant slice of the American grassroots experience. Colored with organ swells, it's the warmest song the duo has ever released, the kind of Everyman anthem that still rings loud with the Sept. 11 tragedy only a year behind us.
Montgomery Gentry has always picked great songs, and delivered them with authority. The two have distinct but compatible voices, with Eddie Montgomery's deep, bluesy rumble in clear contrast to Troy Gentry's more boyish, rock-tinged baritone.
With producer Blake Chancey at the helm, My Town is the duo's most organic-sounding CD to date, ignited by musicians who sound for all the world like a real roadhouse band, especially on boisterous fare like "Hell Yeah" and The Allman Brothers Band's "Good Clean Fun." No doubt about it, these boys can get as rowdy as Bocephus ever did, but behind the bluster lie songs of sensitivity and power.
-- Larry Wayne Clark