On album number four, Troy
make no major breaks with the tried and true formula that weds solid modern country music to the long raucous tradition of redneck rock. But then again, they don't need to. It's true, they streamline it, rock it up, and bring in some more rock & roll, but essentially, these cats lay down 12 very solid tracks written by a slew of Nash Vegas songwriters, most notably Rivers Rutherford
, Jeffrey Steele
, and Bob DiPiero
, who wrote the lion's share of the set. Steele
also produced various tracks, as did Blake Chancey
and Joe Scaife
. But it all comes down to the performances, and Montgomery Gentry
sing these songs like they were their own. And in a sense, now they are. The album opens with, Something To Be Proud Of, a reflective country song that looks at the past as a way of informing the present. It's got the anthemic chorus, but for the most part it digs deep into the heart of country music. The red, white, and blue individualism of the title cut may be hard for some fans to swallow -- but unlike many others who sing anthems to jingoistic patriotism or make self-righteous accusatory judgments in the name of political correctness (the other censorship), these good ol' boys offer tolerance at the heart of their message and insist on it in return. (And the roaring refrain is on a wailing par with that of "My Town.") The album's first single, "If You Ever Stop Loving Me," with its crunching guitars in the refrain, popping banjo in the verse, and even hip-hop scratching in the backdrop, is the summertime country-rock anthem for 2004. Rebel rock granddaddy Hank Williams, Jr.
shows up on "I Ain't Got It All That Bad," a rootsy, moving statement of gratitude and acceptance that is the most resonant track on the set. There is also the sheer rock & roll roar of cuts like "If It's the Last Thing I Do" and "Gone," and the hillbilly craziness of "I Got Drunk," written by one of this album's guitarists, David Grissom
, who spent many years with Joe Ely
and later starred with the John Mellencamp
band, outshines virtually everyone here with his searing tone, in-the-pocket licks, and soulful fills -- and he never overplays. There are even a couple of old-school love songs here in "She Loved Me" and the midtempo ballad "All I Know About Mexico." Ultimately, this is easily the finest outing by modern country's most relevant duo; it rocks, it's soulful, and it's memorable.