Harrison Country – ‘Montana’
Review by Matt Wong & Staff
“Montana”, a new song by Harrison Country, released in advance of their upcoming album, Keeper of the Past, begins with a mandolin intro, supported by piano, acoustic guitar, and steel guitar. The moving intro draws your attention immediately, and Don Harrison’s compelling opening vocal – “I passed you drifting down our hometown’s Main -- seeps into your soul. The mandolin and piano drop out to narrow the mix, putting the spotlight on Harrison, and are replaced with a subtle organ part that lingers in the background. Listeners are treated to this type of nuance throughout the song as Harrison Country displays excellent arranging and compositional sensibilities.
The piano re-enters on the pre-chorus and lifts the song in preparation for the chorus. Upon hitting the chorus, the song opens up, featuring beautiful, Lexi White-arranged background vocals, and steel guitar fills behind the lead vocal. The song goes through the form again before delicate mandolin tremolos guide the song into the bridge. The return of the mandolin on the bridge, as it alternates, from arpeggios to fills, provides a nice contrast to the preceding song sections. Following the bridge, the groove drops out on the last chorus, with the mandolin playing staccato chops to keep time. The groove returns on the second half of the chorus and the song plays out. You couldn't ask for a better instrumental platform for Don's emotional vocal performance.
The lyrics in “Montana” are complex and deep. "Montana" is more than a place. It is about searching for Utopia when the true meaning of life is right in front of you all along: simple things like a cozy fire, and the freshly washed hair of the one you love. The song’s lyrics also carry a profound message, which emphasizes the power of Christian forgiveness to overcome bitterness and anger. At the end, the singer finds peace when he forgives the girl who deserted him, and wishes that she could be flying by his side in Montana.
“Montana is the complete package. The song’s melody is simple, yet highly memorable, the lyrics tell a story and convey a powerful message, and Bryan Ewald’s instrumental arrangement is ever-engaging. Top it off with an outstanding performance by the band, moving and down-to-earth vocals, and you have a song that listeners can put on loop and never lose interest. "Montana" takes Harrison Country to a new level of songwriting that places them at the top of their game.
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About Harrison County
Harrison Country is an Annapolis, Md. based group consisting of Don, Amy and Karen Harrison, Jennie Harrison Young and Lexi White. They have dubbed their music “21st Century American Folk Music,” though it doesn’t sound at all like the “folk revival” music of the ‘60’s. It’s folk music in a deeper sense. The people who created John Henry and Froggy Went a Courtin’ and Scarborough Fair weren’t trying to make “folk music.” They were telling stories about their lives and the world in which they lived, using language that ordinary people could understand, with the instruments and music traditions available to them at the time. Harrison Country does the same.