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Town Mountain (from Lines in the Levee on New West Records) (By Lee Zimmerman)
Some bands plot their way forward by simply following a formula, one that involves taking what’s proven successful in the past and simply replicating it with each and every new offering.
Happily, then, Town Mountain has avoided that routine. They’ve made their name as a Bluegrass band that defies preset parameters while making memorable music that easily attracts a wider audience. That said, their new album, Lines in the Levee, finds them regaling in their roots, and sharing the seminal sounds that brought them — and so many others — to where the current culture is today. For example, there are striking similarities, to The Band in particular, and on songs such as the title track, “Comeback Kid”, “Seasons Don’t Change”, and “Distant Line”, the ghost of Levon Helm, Richard Manuel and Rick Danko seem to be circling just above the horizon. Once can only imagine that Robbie Robertson and Garth Hudson are nodding their approvals and perhaps feeling somewhat saddened that their departed colleagues are no longer here to glean the gratitude.
Nevertheless, though the influences may abound, Town Mountain still put their own stamp on the proceedings throughout. The spirited delivery shared in certain songs — the demonstrative, down-home designs of “Firebrand Road”, the upbeat energy expressed through “American Family”, the rootsy regimen reflected in “Rene”, “Daydream Quarantine” and “Lean Into the Blue” — finds the band leaning into a sound culled from their Appalachian origins. There’s an occasional hint of cynicism — “Big Decisions” rejects any suggestion that they ought to adhere to the tried and true — but mainly, the material comes across as an honest expression of diligence and determination that takes stock in both the reason and reflection that’s always been so vital to the Americana continuum.
That reverence and renewal is also well expressed in a pair of mellower musings — “Unsung Heroes and “Seasons Don’t Change” — each a testament to the eloquence those sentiments instill. So too, the band — Phil Barker on vocals, mandolin and acoustic guitar, fiddler Bobby Britt, vocalist and acoustic guitarist Robert Greer, singer, guitarist and banjo player Jesse Langlais, bassist Zach Smith, and drummer Miles Miller — have elevated themselves to a singular stature that should provide added anticipation for whatever efforts they offer while plotting their way forward towards the future.
Clearly then, this is an outfit that has no need to fall back on the past while venturing to pursue their purposeful intents. Indeed, it’s clear at this point that Town Mountain will always manage to scale the upper heights. (By Lee Zimmerman)
Listen and buy the music of Town Mountain from AMAZON
Please go to the Town Mountain website for more purchase and artist information
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