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Town Mountain (from the EP Dance Me Down Easy: The Woodstock Sessions available on New West Records) (by Lee Zimmerman)
One of the leading lights of today’s so-called progressive Bluegrass movement, Town Mountain takes a decided step forward by advance their musical arc courtesy of a set of classic covers spawned from a diverse array of forebears. A follow-up to their widely acclaimed Lines in the Levee album, released in 2022, the six song EP Dance Me Down Easy might be seen by some as a diversion of sorts, a holding place prior to launching their next set of all original songs. Regardless of the intent, it is, at the very least, an interesting diversion. Inspired by its place of origin, Levon Helm Studios in Woodstock New York, it clearly reflects the ambiance of that special setting while applying lessons learned in both its concept and creation.
As with any set of covers, it’s inevitable that comparisons will be drawn between the originals and the remakes. One has to hope that there’s no tapering with the template, but that the reimagined versions will provide just enough diversion to result in something unique and distinctive.
Happily, then, Town Mountain succeed on both counts, drawing on the familiarity factor while bringing their own personality to the proceedings. The choice of material gave them the grounding that was needed and something of a consistent concept to boot. Their take on J.J. Cale’s “Devil in Disguise” and Levon Helm’s “Dance Me Down Easy” are uncommonly upbeat and affirm the band’s typically energetic approach. A version of the traditional instrumental “Flannery's Reprise” reaffirms their connection to archival origins.
Still, it’s the next two choices that speak more directly to a contemporary connection. Dire Strait’s “So Far Away” and The Kinks’ otherwise obscure “Strangers” speak to the distance and divide that traveling musicians face when choosing to live life on the road. Both songs are given homespun treatments that make the underlying emotions come across as all the more emphatic. The Rolling Stones’ nod to Country conceits, “Sweet Virginia”, is an ideal choice with or without thematic intent.
Ultimately then, Dance Me Down Easy offers all the title implies. Rarely does a covers collection so firmly foster the band involveds own identity.
(By Lee Zimmerman)
Listen and buy the music of Town Mountain from AMAZON
For more information, please visit the Town Mountain website
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