CD Spotlight

Monte Montgomery

It speaks well for Monte Montgomery that although he's best known as a guitar virtuoso, his new album, The Story of Love, is not a wanky soloist's showcase. In a sense, Montgomery is a musical contradiction, because he's blessed with the dexterity of a guitar hero, but the soul of a pop craftsman - similar to a solo Adrian Belew.

Montgomery has a natural flair for melody and a dramatic vocal delivery that suggests a huskier Jeff Buckley, albeit without all the transcendent high flourishes. When the combination clicks on acoustic-driven numbers like the title track and the haunting "Secretly Waiting," it's easy to understand why this Austin singer-songwriter's cult is so devoted. But Montgomery's lyrics tend to recycle prosaic love-gone-wrong laments, and his unwaveringly somber tone eventually starts to feel like an expressive limitation, not an emotional statement. When he cranks up the volume and gets tough, as he does on the riff-heavy "Shock," he's nothing more than a blustery, anachronistic roadhouse rocker.

The Story of Love offers enough promise to make you wish for more, but it also hints that Montgomery - for all his estimable musicianship and earnest sincerity - doesn't wear well in large doses. He would be the perfect sideman, and a welcome change of pace with the occasional vocal/songwriting contribution. But as a solo artist, his Story of Love doesn't go anywhere. •


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