Kristian Montgomery 2021
Boston band’s second outing probes the boundaries of genre possibilities to comment on the foibles of our time.
Looking at the front cover of Kristian Montgomery’s sophomore offering, its potential listener may assume this is a typical album from another singer-songwriter – and, in a way, it is – yet a glance at the record’s back, where the artist’s flipping the bird to those who try and follow him, should suggest something much more defiant than your regular travelogue. And again, it is – seeing the light of day less than a year since the ensemble’s debut “The Gravel Church” was released. But if the disc’s artwork style also seems to imply the presence of country in their songs, such presumption would be on the money, too – only not without a twist.
The twist is there from the start, as the deceptively presumptuous opener “They’ll Remember My Name” turns out to be an insistent, levee-breaking blues avalanche oozing sweet sludge over a funereal riff and anguished vocals as arresting harmonies meet a wailing wall of guitars. So it’s not surprising that, further down the line, “A Warm Grave” unravels a sorrowful Appalachian pining, wrapping the pain in electric cobweb and letting the chorus elevate artistic catharsis to the heavens. For a contrast, acoustic strum which supports the spiritual roll of “Tired Of Being Tired” renders this piece translucent enough for proletarian commiseration to seep through before the belligerently rockabilly “Working Hands” brings a bluegrass filigree to the fore – where drums work miracles – and slings the catchy jangle to the no less serious “American Fire”: an inflammatory, socially charged number drilling the “lost in the USA” refrain into one’s lobes.
But while the irresistibly boisterous “Don’t Call Me Baby” takes rock ‘n’ roll to verdant expanse, “Soul For Soul” proposes introspective sort of vibrant romanticism which gets heavier as it progresses until the effervescently relentless “That Kind Of Love” and optimistically noisy “I’ll Find My Way Home” – apparently, a reply to Steve Winwood’s classic cut – lift the gloomy veil. After this, the finale “Just Driving Around” sounds like a travelogue indeed, yet a route mapped out here promises a lot of unexpected delights in the future for the prince of poverty to become a pauper of creative riches.