Kristian Montgomery and the Winterkill Band’s debut album, The Gravel Church, contains 16 songs, each detailing and conveying the hardships Kristian Montgomery has endured. Alt-country is not normally my go-to country subgenre, however, I thoroughly enjoyed the sound and artistry of The Gravel Church. If you’re looking for songs with the dark, moodiness of Eric Church and the overall sound of Aaron Lewis, then The Gravel Church is an album you’ll love.
The attention to detail, background vocals, and layering stood out to me in most of the songs. “5 Horses” was brought to life with wild animal sounds, a unique detail that made the song stand out in the best way. It’s one of my favorite songs off The Gravel Church and perfectly describes the pandemic we’re currently enduring. The lyrics hauntingly depict how we all currently feel, watching the world fall apart as we’re trapped inside.
“There’s a darkness deep inside our hearts, where we all got lost. When the world came tumbling down and there ain’t no love to be found, so we’re stuck here in our holes in the ground.”
Many songs on the album include spoken word, “Hjertebygger”, being one of my favorites beginning with the poem “Do Not Stand At My Grave and Weep” by Mary Elizabeth Fry. It has a unique melody in it, unlike anything I’ve ever heard in country music, that I originally thought sounded middle eastern, but after doing a quick google search and discovering hjertebygger is a Danish word, I’m thinking the melody could be Danish. I’m unfamiliar with Danish music so I can’t be sure, but regardless of what inspired the melody, it’s very interesting and a huge part of what makes this song one of my favorites off the album.
My least favorite song on the album is “You’re New”. The only issue I have with it is the lyrics. A couple lines rubbed me the wrong way because they sounded slightly derogatory, reducing women’s worth to their appearance, which surely won’t be received well by female listeners, however, I’m sure the lyrics were not intended to be percieved that way.
Overall, The Gravel Church is an outstanding album and deserves to be heard by not only alt-country fans, but country listeners as a whole. The details and stories the songs tell are sure to be appreciated by everybody, so I highly recommend that everyone goes and gives The Gravel Church a listen!