Montgomery Ricky, An Album For Everyone
Although April 1st is infamously known to be a day of tricks and foolery, Ricky Montgomery doesn’t mess around on his debut album, Montgomery Ricky. Within this ten-song record, Ricky Montgomery showcases his excellent songwriting and vocal abilities with catchy choruses and unpredictable melodies.
I was first introduced to Montgomery’s unique voice on Vine, a video-sharing social media app. Vines are only six seconds long, but that was more than enough time for me to be hooked on Montgomery’s art. I can’t quite recall which video caught my interest because as soon as I saw it, I clicked on his profile and watched as many Vines of him singing and/or playing various instruments as I could. Within minutes, I looked him up on Spotify and I’ve been waiting not-so-patiently for his full-length album since 2014. Prior to the release of Montgomery Ricky, the artist made his musical debut with a three-song EP entitled Caught on the Moon. These three songs are featured on the newest record and fit perfectly on the track list.
His current single, “This December,” kicks off the album with some tongue-in-cheek lyrics and a toe-tapping beat, a trend found in many of his songs without seeming repetitive. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I am an absolute sucker for a good harmony; lucky for me, “This December,” along with just about every other track on the album, has some killer harmonies that make me want to start the song over again and again.
As if these harmonies weren’t enough to make the song one of my favorites, Montgomery’s lyrics are some of the best out there. I remember thinking to myself that if the opening line of “This December” is anything to go by, this album is going to take the Californian to see great things. The album opens with Montgomery’s soft vocals singing, “Only in my darkest moments/ Can I see the light, / I think I’m prone to getting blinded when it’s bright.”
When it comes to liking music, lyrics have always been very important to me. I have heard far too many catchy hooks and decent bass lines be wasted on terrible lyrics. Montgomery proves that brilliant music and meaningful words go hand-in-hand when it comes to making a great record. The chorus of the opening track is about as tongue-in-cheek as it gets, as Montgomery sings, “I’m alright if you’re alright / I’m okay if you’re okay.” It is sung so calmly that you miss the bite behind it until the final chorus, when Montgomery changes up the melody and tries to convince the listener of what he is singing.
The second track on the album is entitled “Line Without A Hook.” It was when this track began that I realized I would have many favorites on the record. The song’s melody and beat are unpredictable in the best way, and contain my some of my favorite lyrics: “My emotions feel like explosions when you are around / and I found a way to kill the sound.” The emotion put into this line gave me chills the first time I heard it and you better believe I pressed repeat as soon as it was over. After falling in love “Line Without A Hook” all over again, the third track came along and made my job a lot harder.
“Cabo” is the third song on the album and sounds as fun as its title. The synth in this song is refreshing and shows a different side of Montgomery’s musical repertoire. On his Caught on the Moon EP, the artist stuck with the traditional pop-rock sound while making undeniably good music; within the first four songs on Montgomery Ricky, it is evident that the artist stepped out of his musical comfort zone and trust me, it’s paying off. Luckily, “Cabo” is not the last song with traces of a synth and funky beat.
Track number four is entitled “Don’t Know How” and is his most diverse track right off the bat. If this darker pop sound is the future of Ricky Montgomery, I already cannot wait for what’s next. Not only does he use more technology in “Don’t Know How,” the singer-songwriter also shows off more of his range by mixing up the melody from start to finish. The music video is just as diverse as the song, if not more so. Similar to the song, the video takes an unpredictable course that ultimately leads to it being a great piece of art.
Track five speeds things back up in the typical Montgomery manner with “Last Night,” which is also the opening track on Caught on the Moon. This was the first song I heard from Ricky and is the reason I’m around to see the release of his first full-length record. This has been the song I listen to after a long day at work with my four windows rolled all the way down, a warm breeze filtering through my hair as the sunset paints the sky pink, purple, and orange. It’s another track with amazing harmonies that I try to match as I fly down the highway, one hand on the wheel while the other taps along to the beat.
“California” is a great follow-up to “Last Night.” It’s like when you get off on your exit and are waiting at the stop light; you’re fully aware that everyone around you can hear the song, but you smile and nod your head anyway. It’s hard not to want to share the song with the entire town because of its infectious beat and snarky lyrics.
“California” can also be heard on Caught on the Moon. It’s important to note that I spent about five minutes debating if I should say, “I’m not too good to say I love this song…” because those are the lyrics… in the song… Okay, back to work.
After six upbeat songs, it’s time to take a break with track number seven, “My Heart Is Buried In Venice.” Don’t worry, those lovely harmonies are here to stay. This record truly is a showcase of Montgomery’s vocal talent and here is the song to prove it. The previous six songs were faster tempo jams with biting lyrics and powerful vocals; “My Heart Is Buried In Venice” is a game changer.
The lyrics that stuck with me through the song were sung at the beginning, with the title making its debut early: “My heart is buried in Venice / Hidden beneath all my worries and doubts.” If I’m being honest, the entire first verse struck a chord with me. He uses such beautiful imagery and for someone with an English degree, I am a sucker for verses like this. These wonderfully descriptive lyrics are paired with softer, more emotional vocals as Montgomery shows off his lower range.
Following “My Heart Is Buried In Venice” is track eight: “Mr. Loverman.” Montgomery accompanies a wide range of vocals with more clever lyrics as he sings, “I’m Mr. Loverman / and I miss my lover, man.” The 22-year-old gets ambitious in this track as he demonstrates just how high his range goes; he executes these higher notes perfectly while being laced in more harmonies.
As of now, track nine is my favorite, or should I say the song that has been on repeat as of late. “Get Used It” is the second to last song on Montgomery Ricky and the last song on Caught on the Moon. The melodies in both the verse and the chorus are some of the best I’ve heard in awhile, not to mention the harmonies. I’m sorry, I just really enjoy them! One day I will stop obsessing over them, but today is not that day.
The quickly-sung verses are refreshing after the previous two songs, as well as the reintroduction of a faster tempo. Montgomery delivers some sass in the chorus as he sings, “You want a garden / But you got a balcony,” paired with a catchy melody that will stick with you through the rest of the day.
One of the reasons this song has been on repeat is its ending. For a little over a minute, the phrase, “get used to it,” is repeated as the music fades out. By the end of the song, Montgomery’s vocals are unaccompanied by music and broadcast his talent in its purest form.
The final track on Montgomery Ricky is called “Snow” and starts slower, although not quite as slow at “My Heart Is Buried In Venice” or “Mr. Loverman.” From the first bar, the song holds a much different quality than the previous nine, as if it was written from a much more vulnerable place than the others. Montgomery hid some deeper emotions behind catchy hooks and theatrical vocals before this final track, but all that is being presented in “Snow” is vulnerability and straightforward lyrics. The song builds, as does the emotion, but quickly falls again after the first chorus, as if Montgomery needed a moment to breathe before continuing with his message. The song kicks back up with the same intense emotion into a chorus that pleads, “Bury me six feet in snow.”
It is only fitting that my very favorite lyrics from the entire album close out the record: “Say it once, say it twice / Try to be nice / Well let’s not lose ourselves.” There is something very honest in these words, and they’ve stuck with me since my first listen.
As I am typing this, I have been listening to Montgomery Ricky for a total of 31 hours and when every song is finished, I think to myself, “This is the one. This is my favorite,” and then the next track begins. I wish I could say I was over-exaggerating but the bags under my eyes and the gallons of coffee in my veins will tell you otherwise. It is artists like Ricky Montgomery that remind me why I love music so much. It is albums like Montgomery Ricky that tell me I am in the right business. I want to thank him for making an album that was so easy to write about; the only difficult part of this review was not claiming every song as my favorite, and I mean that honestly.
While Ricky Montgomery lives on the West Coast, and I’m on the East, I can only hope that he finds himself touring the country and ends up somewhere over here so I get the chance to see these songs live! I’ll settle for the album for now, but I don’t suspect Ricky will be staying in California for very long. Montgomery Ricky is an album that will take him to great places, so get on board now. You can buy Montgomery Ricky on iTunes and it will be available on Spotify on April 8th.