Singer/songwriter Holly Montgomery is no stranger to the spotlight, priding herself on work ethic, Montgomery has hit the stage at least 150 times every year for the past several in a row now. Montgomery is as prolific as they come having lined up beside legends in the folk scene such as Dan Bern, won awards with her band Big Planet, she’s been a major contributor to her all woman country band The Mustangs, and even recorded with Ice Cube.
Leaving Eden marks the third album Montgomery has released under her full name. On top of her three solo albums the multi-instrument disciplined mother of three Kazakhstani children has also released two albums as a member of a three-piece outfit called Holly.
The opening track “Drunk on Power” from her latest release Leaving Eden is about as straight ahead rock and roll as a song will get. With a crisp production value and rich guitar tone “Drunk on Power” displays Montgomery Louisville Kentucky rock roots, while sprinkling some country and a dash of blues to bring its southern rock sound together.
On “Waterworks” Montgomery does well to channel one of her many inspirations Sheryl Crow in tone and in style. Despite Montgomery’s good intentions “Waterworks” comes across as trite. With next to no simile or innuendo in her lyrics, Montgomery ‘matter-of-factly’ points out the differences between men and women by recounting to the fictional male in the song’s story how her outbursts are not indicative of his actions.
Dated is much of the Leaving Eden album. Montgomery’s heart seems to be in the right place, but much of the content seems rehashed and passé. If this snapshot of the Falls Church, Virginia based artist is an example of her pinnacle, it may be worth examining where her considerable talents could potentially be more lucrative for her.
That said, as she has extensive studio musician credits to her name, she should be permitted to carry out her goals grander in nature.
Production wise producer Rich Isaac did a great job of dialing in Montgomery’s sound. Buddy Speir’s guitar work is brilliantly clear, even during some of his dirtiest sounding guitar parts Isaac’s work coupled with Speir’s tone really cut through and gives the album a heartiness as well as cleanliness.
On the album’s title track “Leaving Eden”, Montgomery takes another stab at confronting the male / female dynamic and what she perceives as ‘a curse upon her sex’, referencing having not personally eaten the forbidden apple. Just like with “Waterworks” I can’t help but think of the collective shuddering experienced by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, or Elizabeth Blackwell (all of whom walked on the DC soil that makes up Montgomery’s stomping ground) had they the knowledge that in 2016 there are (still) strong and talented women who are still being psychologically constrained by the teachings of an antiquated fable; designed for the purpose of attaining and maintaining an oligarchy.
Though to support Montgomery’s assertion of gender inequality, as women have come to either equal men or at the very least make considerable inroads in most every other musical genre, the list of successful female led southern rock acts is brief. Short of Grace Potter, Lucinda Williams, Sheryl Crow, Kim Logan and Joan Jett, coming up with a roster lengthy enough to field a ball team is actually fairly difficult.
While Montgomery’s numerous talents are pronounced, having played the bass, acoustic guitar, piano and sung on all of her albums, the matter-of-fact lyrics and unwillingness to step outside the box linger over Holly Montgomery and her latest offering “Leaving Eden”
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