The much-anticipated follow-up to "Tattoos and Scars" by last year's duo darlings, Montgomery Gentry, is a textbook example of playing it safe. From the nod to classic country/rock (last time, Charlie Daniels, this time Waylon Jennings) to a wave to daddy (this time it's "My Father's Son"), there isn't a lot of invention on this sophomore release.
There is much to enjoy, including the first single, "She Couldn't Change Me," and "Cold One Comin' On," a powerful, moody rocker in the tradition of Hank Jr. Another fun song is "Black Jack Fletcher and Mississippi Sam," which owes a lot to Daniels. "Ramblin' Man" is arguably the best track, with its Waylon groove still very much intact. The final track, however, seems symbolic of Montgomery Gentry at this juncture. "Tried and True" may sound like a sequel to "Hillbilly Shoes," but the latter's Southern pride has been replaced by an unsettling self-congratulations. "Same people that called me crazy... (are) now the first folks to the stage for a little taste," they cry, "but you don't know the pain I've been through." But self-pity by the famous is always a turn-off.
A lot of ink has been wasted comparing this duo to Brooks and Dunn, suggesting Montgomery Gentry will soon supplant B&D as country's number one pair. But while B&D's latest, "Steers and Stripes" takes risks and kicks down the stalls of country, this finds this pair going forth with same mix of Southern rock and country Travis Tritt provided alone in the 1980's. That may be enough this time, but it won't take long before the formula goes as stale as an '80's Nantucket album.