Dan Montgomery at the Hi-Tone 

Dan Montgomery worries that he may have an identity issue. He's usually described as an "Americana" artist, which is fitting, although he's better recognized in Memphis as a bearded denizen of area taverns and coffeehouses, toting an acoustic guitar and telling clever, edgy stories about love, loss, booze, and catastrophic debt. Over the course of three very good CDs, he has demonstrated that he's all these things. His latest CD, Sin, Repent, Repeat, is a return to tube-amped electric guitars and rock-and-roll with 13 songs that find Montgomery wrestling with old demons and winning on almost every track.

"About two years ago, it dawned on me that I write based on the rhythm section I have," Montgomery says. Problem was, he didn't have a rhythm section. Eventually, he hooked up with Memphis bassist Jeremy Scott (the Subtractions, Reigning Sound) and drummer James Cunningham, who's often found playing blues gigs on Beale or backing Nancy Apple and her Whole Damn Band.

click to enlarge Dan Montgomery
  • Dan Montgomery

"We had a rate-a-record show at the Bucc," Montgomery says, explaining his song selection process. "We handed out score cards with a comment section. This is to people drunk at the Bucc. So some of the comments are really funny, and some are really mean."

Sin, Repent, Repeat opens with "The Drunken Mouth" and "Dirty Rotten Shame," a pair of earworms that sound like Tom T. Hall got in a fight with Velvet Crush and the Ronettes. And speaking of meanness, the standout track "If You Were Mine" maps the distance between wanting and having.

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