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Montgomery Gentry

Rebels on the Run – 2011 (Average Joe's)

Reviewed by Dustin Blumhagen

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CDs by Montgomery Gentry

Montgomery Gentry looked like the likely candidate to take over the country duo throne when Brooks & Dunn called it quits. But they disappeared from the scene and pop stars Sugarland filled the void instead. After clearing up some label issues and dealing with the frustration of recording an album that never gets released, the guys are back to represent the rock and roll side of mainstream country. With the recent mega success of guys like Eric Church and Jason Aldean, their timing couldn't be better.

The guys kick things off with an upbeat song full of attitude. Damn Right I Am is a loud mouthed, redneck pride anthem that would make Bocephus proud. The irony of lyrics that one minute praise the church and the next defend a man who shoots another may irritate some listeners, but the people that the song was written for will love it. Many of the songs follow this formula, combining hard living country boy pride with rock and roll tinged country songs, including the aptly titled Work Hard, Play Harder. The guys channel Big & Rich on the rocker, So Called Life, with surprising success. Lead single,Where I Come From is a highlight track that sounds like a sequel to their hit Something to be Proud Of. Long time fans of the band will know exactly what to expect from these songs. They are songs that make you want to sing loud, proud of where you come from and your right to bear arms and drink beer.

This album separates itself from their past releases in the slower moments. In the past, the majority of their mid-tempo ballads served as filler to round out their albums. Some of these songs still fall into that trap, including Empty. When a guy whose wife left him shortly after he was diagnosed with cancer sings a sad song about feeling alone, you would expect much more emotion than Eddie Montgomery delivers here. You can hear him singing the words, but it doesn't feel like he actually feels them.

But they make up for the occasional misstep with some of their best songs to date. The title track is a pretty mid-tempo song about young lovers running away from home. They revisit the rural pride of their fast songs with a slow country pop song I Like Those People, which brings in Alabama's Randy Owen and Charlie Daniels to sing along. The song contains a sheen that has been absent from their past releases, which may be attributed to their working with producer Michael Knox, who is a frequent collaborator with Jason Aldean. Where he failed on Empty, Montgomery succeeds on Missing You, a heartfelt lost love ballad. The song is a long way from a Rascal Flatts tearjerker, but coming from a couple of burly bikers, this is as close to sappy as you can imagine.

For their first release outside of a major label contract, Montgomery Gentry chose to ignore their new found freedom and stick with the formula that brought them success in the past. Long time fans of the duo will be happy with the long awaited new album from the guys. Critics of the band won't be swayed however. Despite a bit more polish on the slow songs, this is definitely recognizable as a Montgomery Gentry album.