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B-Sides & Badlands’ Album Review: Death & The Thrill of Living

Sometimes the dead keep coming back,” opines Kristian Montgomery. “Soul for Soul” anchors his latest studio record, Prince of Poverty, released earlier this year and billed under Kristian Montgomery & the Winterkill Band. His lyrical barbs scatter like glass shards through a hypnotic rock static, permitting his voice to play tug of war with pulsing electric guitars and heart throbbing percussion. But he’s never drowned out. It’s quite the contrary. He’s very much in control.

Prince of Poverty (co-produced with Joe Clapp) looms with a meager 10 songs.

Prince of Poverty (co-produced with Joe Clapp) looms with a meager 10 songs. The immense power comes with Montgomery’s ability to wield lyrical boulders and watch them crash and tumble down the mountainside. “Tired of Being Tired” flickers with the worry and weight of a working man’s life, his voice appearing weathered from time’s thick grip. “It seems like forever since I’ve seen my body break,” he confides on the opening line. It’s the dishevelment and exploitation of the working class caught in his unwavering sight, and his apt observations stem from decades of experience, often informing the plainspoken way he approaches lyrics.

Later, “A Warm Grave” stings the skin with an acoustic-rendered confessional, in which he muses on past generations and the slow march to death. “We’ll both die some day,” he sings, decorated with resignation hanging over his every word. Such thematic beats transform a solid indie-rock collection into a great one, and Montgomery stands triumphantly in the middle of a wonderfully raging firestorm.

Across Prince of Poverty, Montgomery & the Winterkill Band unlocks tremendous musicality and lyrical gumption.

“Remember My Name” sets up the record as an emotional tour de force, an anger spitting like venom from his tongue, whereas “That Kind of Love” emits a rollicking free-spiritedness and “Just Driving Around” washes down as a palette cleanser, both musically and lyrically. In between, Montgomery navigates through a barnyard bonanza (“Working Hands”) and the thorniness of a romantic entanglement (“Don’t Call me Baby”) before arriving upon a measured, level-headed take on the state of America these days (“American Fire”). “It’s like we’ve all been caught sleeping,” he concedes on the latter. He burrows his voice deep in the lyrics, and each listen results in a further appreciation for the work. There’s nuance to the quiet moments and a head-punching bluntness in the intermittent eruptions. Such a balance is almost acrobatic in nature; the bluesy outfit seesaw from both extremes with a well-constructed precision, almost graceful.

Across Prince of Poverty, Montgomery & the Winterkill Band unlocks tremendous musicality and lyrical gumption, signaling they’re simply getting started. A third studio record is currently in the works.

 – Jason Scott, HashtagWV #138. (Dec-Jan 2022). Jason has bylines in Audiofemme, American Songwriter, Paste, PopCrush, Billboard, and many more. Learn more at bsidesbadlands.com.

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