Hammertowne

Hammertowne

Mountain Fever, 2013

http://www.hammertowne.com

REVIEW BY: Curtis Jones

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 03/31/2014

Hammertowne is yet another group of talented musicians that hail from the mountains of Eastern Kentucky and more broadly from the Appalachian region. They clearly draw inspiration from old traditions as well as powerhouse bluegrass standbys like IIIrd Tyme Out and Doyle Lawson, but have an originality that justifies the Mountain Fever Records interest in them for this eponymous album. 

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Most of Hammertowne's tunes center around down and out heartbreak. But for many, they are delivered in such a way as to be almost tongue-in-cheek. A large chunk of the writing for the album is done by band member Dave Carroll. His solid phrasing and wordsmithing on his songs particularly impressed this reviewer. They are not just tunes that were thrown together and played by friends. It is clear that they were carefully crafted with care. 

"I'm Thinking You Don't Love Me Anymore," "Emma," "So Long And Goodbye" and "Why Don't You Tell Me So" all tell of gut-wrenching heartbreak, but do so in an ironic, fast-paced, major key fashion. On "Cherokee Maiden," the band really does pay homage to Russell Moore and IIIrd Tyme Out, while "So Long And Goodbye" sounds like it could have been done by the likes of Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver. Carroll's "Movin'" and "Too Far Gone," written by Kyle Burchett, stand out from the rest of the tracks for their contemplative nature and slightly different pace and style. The group provides and intricate instrumental backing for these songs, proving that they have the chops to do not only the fast stuff, but also the slower tunes. 

The album refreshes a couple of classic numbers with the Lester Flatt favorite "Why Don't You Tell Me So" and the gospel track "I'll Talk It All Over With Him," which JD Crowe released in the 1970s. They also tack on the traditional “Sourwood Mountain,” which really provides a serious dose of Appalachian flavor.

All told, this is a solid bluegrass performance. Although the group clearly draws inspiration from popular bluegrass bands, they deliver it with sparkling originality, especially in the quality songwriting.

Rating: A

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