Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Randy Montana, "1,000 Faces"

This talented young country newcomer is the son of Billy Montana - the songwriting genius behind best-loved chart-topping smashes like Garth's "More Than a Memory," Jo Dee's "Bring On the Rain," and Sara's "Suds In the Bucket."  After a stint as the frontman of his own rock band, Randy Montana eventually followed his father's footsteps into the country market, making his own mark with his recent Top 40 single "Ain't Much Left of Lovin' You."  But unlike the modern heartbreak of his previous single, his new release "1,000 Faces" is more in the vein of love songs, albeit not the stereotypical lovey-dovey type.

The song begins on a very strong note as Randy describes the many faces of love, backed by a plucked-out acoustic arrangement.  "There's brunettes, blonde girls, blue jeans, string of pearls... debutantes, drama queens, glued to Bride magazine" he sings, concluding that "Love has a thousand faces, but I see you."  As he describes the many various women who could be potential lovers, Randy employs clever rhyming schemes and a low-key but infectious rhythm.  This gives the song an air of mystery, and keeps the list-song format from seeming like a crutch.

But now we run into problems.  As Randy leads us through these descriptions, he leads us to expect some sort of lyrical climax - something profound that would drive home the song's ultimate point.  Such a climax is never reached.  Our only listener payoff comes in the form of an overly loud rock guitar solo.  The problem isn't that it's "too pop;" the problem is that it doesn't fit the character of the song.  Up until that mid-point, the song has an appealingly intimate and personal mood.  It's as if Randy is singing to this one woman, and to no one else.  Once the arena rock production kicks in, that intimate feeling is obliterated.  Then it's no longer about the woman - It's about wowing the fans.

In addition, without that much-needed clincher verse, the lyrics just seem to run around in circles.  True, the lyrics are for the most part interesting, but even the strongest of bricks still need mortar to hold them together.  Likewise, with neither a binding narrative structure nor a consistent mood, "1,000 Faces" ultimately crumbles.

(Scores are given on a scale of 1 to 10)