Eddie Montgomery was country shuffling in his hillbilly
shoes, singing about knowing it all back then, brother John
Michael would’ve just smiled. After all, Eddie and Troy
(Montgomery Gentry) were treading into familiar territory; a
region John Michael had helped shape years ago, when he was
riding high with his own chart-toppers.
For John Michael
Montgomery, the hat-wearing crooner from Kentucky, there’s
little to be envious of, little to long for chart-wise, as
it’s a case of been there and done that. And he surely has.
All in all, JMM has delivered up over 30 singles to the
Billboard Country Singles Chart. The albums, the sales, the
tours, all add to a polished career that began in 1992.
For the honky-tonker
best known for his stirring and thoughtful ballads, JMM has
over the journey offered up some memorable cuts. Tracks like
the million-selling “Life’s A Dance”, “I Love The Way You
Love Me”, the chart-climber “I Swear” and the radio hit
“Letters From Home” all showcase a talent who’s ridden the
popularity wave and maintained a presence long after many
have sunk into turntable obscurity.
Now with the release
of his latest album, Time Flies, an album he
co-produced with Byron Gallimore, the versatile Montgomery
is poised for an overdue return. Out on own label,
Stringtown, and released this week, the album is an 11 track
array of what JMM does with ease and style.
The first radio
single, “Mad Cowboy Disease”, a rockin’ controversy that
drew criticism over its insensitivity to use lyrics so
aligned to a farming catastrophe is here. Pass on that cut
and the rest of the album is fine-tuned, delivering with a
range of tear-jerking fare, rockin’ Saturday night
kick-backs and the odd slice of humor.
First: the humor.
“With My Shirt On” is a chuckle involving memories of taut
bodies, distant locations and a time when youthful looks
came naturally. Now with the passing of time comes hang and
spread, so our hero, to his dismay, finds out. His ladylove
is still a 10 but our ego sensitive hero is 20lbs heavier
and somewhere long lost to his perfect prime. His passion is
high, his interest intact, but tonight, given the
circumstances, he wants to make love with his shirt on. You
get the message and humor, I’m sure.
Somber moments, and
there are a few, come with the standout “All In A Day”. The
track timelines how quickly life rolls on and by. The tune
captures beautifully how, before we even blink, the autumn
of our lives is with us. Another standout is the provoking
“Drunkard’s Prayer”. The melodic cut tells how a loner and
loser “when he gets drunk talks to God”. With its honesty,
the honesty found in a truth that drunks don’t lie, the tune
is a strong vehicle for Montgomery’s sensitive vocal. Same
can be said for the redemptive and strength of finding real
purpose and direction, as played out on “Fly On”.
include the toe-tappin’ and charged “What Did I Do”, the
pain of a moved-on lover, “If You Ever Went Away” and the
family etched, “Brothers Till The End”.
Time flies. It sure
does. With his new album, John Michael shows that style,
voice and feel only get better with its passage.