The sophomore effort from J. D. Smith and the Three Legged Dog is gritty, homely and raucous, making it the perfect depiction of the rough and tumble landscape of the band’s northwest Montana origins. Recorded over two weeks last February in a remote cabin near Troy, Unstable draws from myriad genres—rock, country, folk and bluegrass—and delivers a lyrical candor many artists strive for, but few actually reach.
The themes are tried and true, ranging from heartbreak and loneliness to introspection and rural living, but the music—for better or worse—never outdoes the storytelling. On “Ain’t Got No Home,” Smith finds a heady balance between the alt-country outlawry of Steve Earle and pop-twinge of Robert Earl Keen. “Montana Nights” channels The Gourds and serves as the musical standout. With “Stuck in the Moment” and “All Over But the Crying,” Smith and company generically expand into country rock.
While Smith’s lyrics portray the Montana scene with a certain amount of geographic sincerity, there’s still plenty of room musically for The Three Legged Dog to fully realize its dramatic potential. But in the meantime, the view here is just fine. (Jonathan Stumpf)
J.D. Smith and the Three Legged Dog play Sean Kelly’s Friday, Dec. 21, at 9 PM. Cover TBA. Call 542-1471.