JOHN MICHAEL MONTGOMERY (Atlantic Records, 1995)
by Sandra L. Toney
John Michael Montgomery's latest album release, his third since his debut, Life's A Dance (Atlantic, 1992), is titled simply John Michael Montgomery. Only three short years ago, when no one knew who was crooning the number one hit from that debut album, "I Love the Way You Love Me," most of us knew JMM was just getting started. Since that hit reached the top spot, Montgomery has had two more ballads achieve national recognition.
From his album, Kickin' It Up (Atlantic, 1994), came the tear-jerking favorite, "I Swear," which the group, All-4-One, took to the top of the pop charts at the same time. So, it was no surprise when Montgomery's first number one hit off this latest effort, "I Can Love You Like That," was also used by All-4-One and, once again, taken to the number one position on the pop charts.
It is clear that John Michael Montgomery presents a much more mature Montgomery than his previous releases. With a mix of rock, swing and, of course, ballads (which Montgomery does best), this album exhibits something for everyone. Besides "I Can Love You Like That," other touching selections that could easily become number ones include "Heaven Sent Me You," "Long As I Live," "No Man's Land," and the song about still loving your high school sweetheart, "High School Heart."
A couple of almost "swing" style of songs appear on the album as well. "Just Like A Rodeo" tells the similarities between falling in love and those eight short seconds in the saddle during a rodeo. And, if Montgomery ever needs a second job, his auctioneering talents are revealed in the charming hit, "Sold (The Grundy County Auction Incident)." The chorus has him jabbering just like a seasoned auctioneer, "I'm goin' once, goin' twice/I'm sold! On the lady in the second row/She's an eight, she's a nine, she's a ten, I know/She's got ruby red lips, blond hair, blue eyes/An' I'm about to bid my heart goodbye!" What woman could refuse a plea as sincere as that?
There are two really fun, upbeat songs that will surely become hits for this rising star. The opening selection, "Cowboy Love," has John Michael trying to persuade a woman from the country club set to try love "the cowboy way." He convincingly contends, "If a little two steppin', star gazin', breathtakin' lovemakin' is what you're dreamin' of/Then let me show you darlin' a little cowboy love."
Finally, JMM ends this extraordinary effort with a touching declaration of his love for country music in the foot-tapping single, "It's What I Am." The sure-to-be-a-hit song's chorus has Montgomery really gettin' down as he belts out this: "And I never heard a fiddle called a violin/Never really worried if I fit in/Country ain't what I sing/It's what I am . . ."
Judging from this latest attempt, truer words have never been spoken. John Michael Montgomery is indeed COUNTRY to the core!
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