Randy Montana and Mercury Nashville release an artist, a sound and a self-titled debut album July 26, 2011 that might “cling to the rough edges of country’s musical highway” but holds on strong as a singer, a songwriter and a signature sound to scale the heights and hit the summit.
Born to famous songwriter Billy Montana, Albany, NY and music, Randy Montana’s been rockin’ around the Nashville sound since 1988 when his singer/songwriter dad signed a record deal and moved the family. Randy started playing guitar at age 10, writing songs at age 16 and made his first public performance at one of his dad’s songwriter’s nights at 17.
In hopes of one day landing a publishing deal, Randy worked odd jobs, wrote songs and strengthened his musical chops and understanding of how a crowd works during his college days playing frat parties and Middle Tennessee bars in a band called Homestead.
That’s Randy Montana behind the scenes. You might know him from his 2010 release from this debut album of Ain’t Much Left of Lovin’ You, a mid-tempo ballad so lyrically visual you can taste the memory, feel the loss and empathize with this guy’s pain.
But Randy’s been busy since that 2010 release completing this “little left of country’s center” debut album, touring with artists such as Lady Antebellum, Sugarland, Little Big Town and Taylor Swift and enjoying the success of his current single 1000 Faces.
1000 Faces is a tender ballad that seduces with the sensual admission that “love has a thousand faces but I see you.” It’s climbing the charts, connecting with concertgoers as “my favorite song of the night” and collecting accolades. Brian Mansfield of USA Today tweets “I’ve found my first favorite song of 2011.” Randy himself shares that “1000 Faces is fun to play live because you get this whole burst of energy yourself.” And Music Row calls it “a sonic masterpiece … the kind of single that makes a star.”
But don’t let the 1000 Faces of critical acclaim define either the artist or the album. Randy Montana co-wrote 9 out of the 11 songs on this Jay Joyce produced masterpiece. He’s previously penned the Montgomery Gentry recorded Can’t Feel the Pain. And he’s joined on this album by his songwriter father creating the story of a man clinging to a dying relationship in Last Horse – where the musical composition is enchanting, the lyric is flawless, the story is hopelessly painful and Emmylou Harris joining him in harmonies adds an artistic beauty that Randy shares “at the time, it’s kind of tough to realize the magnitude of what just went down. But then once it does sink in, it’s like, ‘This is going to be a tough thing to top.’ ”
This 11-track debut compilation is rock solid in lyric, vocals, influence and experience. It glides gently from powerful uptempos to tender Like a Cowboy melodies. There are no fillers and lots of could-be-singles.
But musical upbringing, influence and experience aside, Randy Montana is personally gifted with rich, raspy vocals and a young, tender heart and combines all that to deliver mature music, mature messages and a mature sound.
In a track layout with a delightful flow, he cautions himself to Burn These Matches advertising scribbles of temptation and explodes with a toe-tapping reminder that when It’s Gone, it’s gone. The contemplative melody and lyric in Reckless erupts into a high-powered chorus and desire to throw caution to the wind and live a little on the dangerous edge of life. And later finds himself tenderly filing the reminder of love lost in the Back of My Heart (one of my personal favorites). He pays tribute and honor to the timecard lifestyle of working on the Assembly Line where “it’s a job for the diligent heart and I’m just one of a thousdand parts.” But also doesn’t hesitate in Goodbye Rain to “take a fast train out of town … and get a little road between you and me.”
Now, I’m no musician or music historian but I know a hit when I hear it. My personal favorite, It Ain’t Hit Me Yet, combines the edginess of Cross Canadian Ragweed in the verses with the energetic sound of the Monkees in the chorus and bridge and delivers a ruckus bar-drinking realization that “one of thems gonna get me, the heartache or regret, and her bein’ gone or the alcohol, man it ain’t hit me yet.” It’s an infectious top pick and hopefully a single.
All told, if you enjoy indulging in rich, rockin’ composition cultivated in organic musical soil, lyrical depth and vocal strength that will pause you in your tracks and tune you in, then you will enjoy listening repeatedly to Randy Montana, the self-titled debut album available everywhere July 26, 2011. Be sure to add Randy Montana to your playlist and your concert list. Neither will disappoint.