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Montgomery Gentry

Outskirts – 2019 (Average Joe's)

Reviewed by Jeff Lincoln

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CDs by Montgomery Gentry

Country music had an especially dark day on Sept. 8, 2017, when the world lost the voices of both Don Williams and Troy Gentry. One was an established legend, and the other was working on it. Gentry was only 50 years-old at the time of his fatal helicopter crash, but he had accomplished much: the longstanding partnership with Eddie Montgomery had yielded five number one singles, and dozens of other hits. 2018's "Here's To You" release was completed at the time of the tragedy. "Outskirts" is the seven-song EP of the unreleased material from those sessions.

It sounds flip to call it a collection of leftovers. But this isn't a standard record bound by a common thread, other than the sweet and sour of Gentry's treble and Montgomery's bass. There's a twangy Merle Haggard cover ("What Am I Gonna Do With the Rest of My Life"). It does take on additional poignancy with Montgomery's singing low about what's next. Ditto the umpteenth cover of Darrell Scott's "You'll Never Leave Harlan Alive" with Gentry singing lead. Another Scott cover, "River Take Me," is too tepid to feel very necessary.

Once you get past the mournful songs, the EP is a pretty raucous affair. There are the inevitable tracks devoted to celebrating redneck lifestyle. The title track is the best thing on here - it aims to please and does, with chunky power chords and killer harmonies. "Never Been Nothin' Else" with a bass line far more funky heard in pop country, begs for attention. The MG boys certainly could make records that were loud - you won't need to turn the volume up. Steve Vai turns in his usual great riffs to add some texture to "King of the World." "Joe Six Pack" closes things out, with yet even more cranked-up stadium rock.

It's admirable that Montgomery wants to carry on the group's name and touring. He still thinks of himself as being part of a group. This record is really an extension of that sentiment to forge ahead, giving the world as much Gentry as they had in the vault. While this collection doesn't much add or detract from the MG legacy, it does serve as a capable reminder of the "T-roy" swagger and talent that lives on in memory.