Montgomery Gentry

Here's to You

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Shortly after Montgomery Gentry completed Here's to You, their ninth album and second for Average Joe's, Troy Gentry died in a helicopter crash. This tragedy hangs over the reception of Here's to You, lending it an air of fatality that it otherwise would not have had. Certainly, there are themes of mortality woven within its 12 songs, but they're the kind that concern men in their middle age: feeling a little bit older and slower, the necessity of a stable love, and the desire to be a "Better Me." Gentry sings a song of that name, which does indeed bestow a slightly sticky track some poignancy, an emotion that neither "Better Me" nor Here's to You would have if it weren't for Gentry's untimely demise. Setting that sad fact aside, Here's to You is a straight-ahead Montgomery Gentry album, one that is proudly out of step with current fads and designed to please longtime fans. Apart from a hint of hip-hop at the start of "Get Down South," Here's to You adheres to the same melodic synthesis of anthemic rock and country corn Montgomery Gentry call their own. If the songs aren't particularly memorable -- the jingoistic "That's the Thing About America" stands out because it's not a song about love, family, aging, or beer -- they're all sturdy and ingratiating, the work of amiable pros. While that might not be the kind of farewell anybody would've conceived for Troy Gentry, it nevertheless holds true to values he held dear throughout his career.

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