Dan Montgomery – Cast-Iron Songs and Torch Ballads
This 10-song set is Dan’s 7th & apparently a return to his original career roots. It’s not necessarily as rootsy as earlier work but Dan reconnected with the rock of his formative early 70s years in South Jersey.
The music on Cast-Iron Songs and Torch Ballads (Drops April 7–Fantastic Yes) was recorded & produced in Memphis, TN by Dan (lead vocals/electric & acoustic guitars/keyboards) with Robert Mache (electric guitar/acoustic guitars/keyboards/percussion/vocals).
A bit more commercial with tighter mainstream flavors than previous efforts the entire set’s embedded in new beginnings, possibilities & inviting journeys. Dan isn’t shy about confronting difficult subjects & he did a lot of thinking within arm’s reach of legal lubricants. But he’s not alone. The Who’s Pete Townshend even thanked Remy Martin on one solo LP for saving his life since their product was so “bloody expensive.”
Dan’s pathology here is troubled relationships, predator addictions & blue devil loneliness does come vividly alive since they’re not written out of fiction. Some artists write endlessly about what others have already said. There are just so many words in the English language to describe love, sadness, the blues, infatuation, unrequited love & the slow passage of hours when things don’t go your way.
What’s interesting is that while the vocals may be in a conventional style Dan has his J.J. Cale spirit finely tuned in songs like “Start Again.” It has swampy fluid prowess with haunting sounds. I like this. At times the tunes are generated in a Buddy Miller depth (“Lonesome Train”).
“If I Said It,” has an attractive guitar riff from the same soil as The Dictators’ “Stay With Me.” If Dan has mastered something it’s the radiance of his R&R drive. These songs are a bit more cranked out & urgent.
A fairly standard ballad-rocker “Beaumont,” is a true story with the name of the town changed to protect the guilty. It’s garage rock nurtured on classic rock instead of just grungy power chords. Dan’s secret is to keep his voice & Candace’s underlying singing flowing like a fast cool current.
Then they shift into a lower gear to run his groove through a Gary Glitter-Adam Ant percussive colander with Mason Ruffner guitar bluster. “Sort It All Out,” is cool. One of the best. Followed by the percussive “In For a Penny.” A good segue. The LP amply captures vintage sounds of classic rock without being too retro & it’s entertaining throughout.
Highlights – “Start Again,” “If I Said It,” “Beaumont,” “Sort It All Out,” “Glitter,” “In For a Penny,” “Lonesome Train” & “All That Matters Now.” Video premiere: https://americanahighways.org/2023/04/03/video-premiere-dan-montgomery-start-again/
Musicians – Candace Mache (vocals), James Cunningham (drums/percussion), Tom Arndt (bass/vocals), Rick Steff (keyboards) & Jim Spake (sax).
B&W image courtesy of Dan’s website & Bandcamp.