Where once Garth Brooks was criticized for not being country enough, today we have hip hop artists making cameos and artists like Sam Hunt topping the country charts with EDM songs. With no release since 2011's "Rebels on the Run," we see Montgomery Gentry return to a radically different country music scene than the one they were a part of at the turn of the century. Bro country has enjoyed a large amount of success in recent years, and it is arguable that this duo is one of the most important influences on chart topping artists like Brantley Gilbert.
But as sounds evolve, tastes change, and these guys are old enough to be grandfathers to some of the new crop of Nashville country artists. Guys like Joe Diffie have flopped in their recent efforts to return to the scene, so it seems fair to ask if Montgomery Gentry are able to remain relevant.
Long-time fans will be happy to know that the material is largely the same that the duo has become known for. Lyrically, the guys touch on faith, small towns and partying, just like they always have. The music still tempers country with a rock edge, but playing this alongside "Tattoos and Scars" will show just how much the production has changed over the years. There are no rhymes heard anywhere, and the guitars dominate most songs.
But there are some modern touches that show up here and there, such as on "Hillbilly Hippies," which sounds like it could be a Road Hammers track. On "Better Off," they put plenty of soul on a sweet ballad. There is a nod to their role as bro country elders on "Back on a Dirt Road" a driving southern rock track that features a cameo from Black Stone Cherry's Chris Robertson.
During their career, Montgomery Gentry have been recognized as an entertaining live act. At times, their recorded material hasn't successfully related that fact though. On "Folks Like Us," the guys show that they can still tear up a stage alongside acts half their age. The sound is updated just enough to intrigue those who were too young to know them during their heyday, while the things that listeners have loved about the band since the '90s are still present. This album sounds as if it were specifically designed with cranked amps and loud crowds in mind.