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Montana: A Love Story

Montana: A Love Story

5.0 1
by George Winston
Following his surprising departure on Night Divides the Day, an album of Doors covers, George Winston returns to the "piano-folk" style that made him a new-age legend on Montana: A Love Story. But don't expect a carbon copy of Autumn or December.


Following his surprising departure on Night Divides the Day, an album of Doors covers, George Winston returns to the "piano-folk" style that made him a new-age legend on Montana: A Love Story. But don't expect a carbon copy of Autumn or December. Spreading his wings, the pianist takes in a variety of music on the solo album, from Winston originals and arrangements of traditional tunes to an assortment of pieces by Mark Isham, Frank Zappa, Sam Cooke, and others. Still, the whole is unified by its largely reflective, even trancelike mood -- Winston remains the undisputed master of piano chill-out. Ostensibly an album about Montana, where Winston was born, a few pieces bear clear connections to the Treasure State, as garnered from Winston's liner notes. Montanan Philip Aaberg supplies the wistful "Nevertheless, Hello," and his style inspired Winston's own "Sweet Soul (Gobajie)." (Gobajie is the name of Winston's cat, which explains the piece's downward-leaping, pet-on-a-keyboard passages.) Other Montana ties are more tenuous. Winston says Frank Zappa's "The House I Used to Live In" uncannily reminded him of his boyhood home even before he knew the piece's title. It's certainly the most far-out music on the album, reminiscent of the plink-plank of some dense modern-classical composition, and one can see how it might provoke memories of a quirky old house. Still harder to glean are Montana links for many of the remaining numbers, and Winston provides very little explanation in the booklet. Yet the sense of personal reminiscence and quiet rumination runs strong throughout, and the listener's job is predictably easy. Just lie back and think of Montana.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - David Jeffries
A love letter to his home state, Montana is George Winston's most varied album since 1999's Plains and probably his most personal album, ever. His last album -- 2002's Night Divides the Day -- focused on his first musical inspiration, the Doors. Montana goes deeper into his heart, back to childhood memories of his family's house, lullabies, and first encounters with songs that would later hold great personal meaning. It's this kind of genuine wonder of it all that makes Montana so great. Winston is freer than usual on some of the tracks, playing like France's most precious dreamer, Erik Satie, must have; sometimes with great care and sometimes open-ended. On "Valse Frontenac," Winston stops on what seems like the second-to-last note, a cliffhanger move Satie might have pulled on you in anything-goes-Paris, 1900 or so. Like so many other moments on the album, it's fragile, but purposeful enough to not be maudlin. Surrounding these peculiar twists with popular nostalgia like "Goodnight Irene" and that song to which you first danced with a girl -- in Winston's case it's Sam Cooke's "You Send Me" -- are more common moments with no less sincerity, and it keeps Montana from being an album only Winston understands. His brief but informative liner notes also help the listener relate, but the varied repertoire might surprise -- or at worst, alienate -- those who only know his "one mood" albums. Moving away from the mood-based albums like December and Autumn lets the pianist get risky and play things by a diverse group of folk like the 19th century composer Rentaro Taki and Frank Zappa, whose "The Little House I Used to Live In" goes from cerebral to homey in Winston's caring, miniature interpretation. You see "Montana" on the cover and "Zappa" in the credits and you think you're going to sing, "Moving to Montana soon/Going to be a dental floss tycoon," but that's not Winston, too obvious. George always hints he knows, and then goes and plays it the way he wants to: not overly academic, heartfelt, and with nothing to prove. It's made his detractors declare his music "wallpaper," but they'll have a hard time doing that with Montana. Don't let it scare you. The little bits of dissonance are tempered with welcoming warmth and heart. Montana is filled with the goods and bads, the regrets and triumphs of home, and all the sentimentality and peculiarity of going back. The way Winston sorts it all out is fascinating and anything but wallpaper.

Product Details

Release Date:
Rca Victor


Album Credits

Performance Credits

George Winston   Primary Artist,Piano

Technical Credits

Mark Isham   Composer
Sam Cooke   Composer
Paul Anastasio   Composer
Philip Aaberg   Composer
Frank Zappa   Composer
Howard Johnston   Producer,Engineer
Huddie Ledbetter   Composer
Scott Smith   Cover Photo
George Winston   Composer,Producer
Cathy Econom   Producer
Rentaro Taki   Composer
Justin Lieberman   Engineer
Traditional   Composer
Richard Thomas Jennings   Art Direction
Colin Gradek   Engineer
Alby Potts   Composer

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Montana: A Love Story 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am so enjoying this latest album by George Winston. This is something I can listen to over and over and never get tired of it. It will make a great Christmas gift for my friends.