This review originally appeared in the June/July 1994 issue of "Beat U.S.A.
CD/MUSIC REVIEW OF JOHN MICHAEL MONTGOMERY'S KICKIN' IT UP (1994 Atlantic Records)
by Sandra L. Toney
It seemed unlikely that country music newcomer John Michael Montgomery could produce a follow-up album that could ever surpass his brilliant debut album, Life's a Dance. However, this talented bachelor's second release, Kickin' It Up, has exceeded many people's expectations. When the album was released at the end of January, it debuted at the number ONE position on the Country charts and number three on the Pop charts. And, after only two weeks out, it hit number one on the Pop charts.
Following all the enthusiasm over his first album's number one emotional hit ballad, "I Love the Way You Love Me," I didn't think it was possible to touch the hearts of so many listeners again. However, John Michael Montgomery accurately selected another sentimental smash for his latest album. Its first release, "I Swear," soared quickly to number one on the Country charts and has earned Montgomery's mesmerizing voice a high standing among country music's best balladeers. "I Swear" has become a popular choice to be played at weddings all across the country, as the song is saturated with romance. The passage, "For better or worse; till death do us part; I'll love you with every beat of my heart; I swear . . ." pretty much sums it all up for anyone who listens to this powerful tune.
John Michael Montgomery has other splendid ballads on this album, although "I Swear" is getting the most attention. "Oh How She Shines" could easily become a fan favorite, not only because Montgomery belts out a great tune, but because of the poignant story behind this song. It is about meeting up with an old flame, remembering his love for her, and finally realizing, "Oh, how she shines, shines a light on you. In that light I see just how much you mean to me. Oh, how she shines." The message: his current love conquers memories of the past. Another melancholy, but inspirational, single, "Rope the Moon," tells of a woman's affectionate confidence in her man as the lyrics convey, "She thinks I could rope the moon. In her eyes, there is nothing I can't do. When I think its out of reach, she's the reason I still try." John Michael Montgomery knows how to pick a song that will seize your heart and soul. No one does it better!
Kickin' It Up contrasts Life's a Dance by moving away from the "reckless country" tone of the first album's songs, such as the honky tonk tunes, "Beer and Bones" and "Taking Off the Edge," by sporting a different style. Energetic songs like "Be My Baby Tonight," "She Don't Need a Band to Dance," and "Friday at Five" could be destined for the Pop charts because of their prevalent pop/rock flavor. In the album's final selection, the title song, "Kick It Up," Montgomery effectively switches back to his country roots and you can't help but "Kick It Up" with him when you hear this song. It's a toe-tappin', boot-stompin', delightful summation to this electrifying singer's second remarkable effort!
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