The greatest of the ‘grass-fed players should be considered rock stars like rock stars are. Complex melodies and downhome ideals sung and played with natural passion and jaw-dropping chops ought to make that a given.
Put on “Southern Crescent” and appreciate some incredible music — and air guitar opportunities. One of the peaks in the monumental Asheville, North Carolina music community, Town Mountain returns on the heels of a teaser single celebrating the Grateful Dead last year.
Mandolinist Phil Barker, banjoist Jesse Langlais, fiddle player Bobby Britt and guitarist Robert Greer stand out tall in the huge “new grass” realm. All but Britt sing and harmonize like the devil, but quite angelically. A quick rip through “St. Augustine” gets the album going just to let you know what you’re dealing with. Then they settle in. “Ain’t Gonna Worry Me” has a Chris Stapleton and Steeldrivers soulful/gritty vibe to it, and damn it’s as good if not better. A short fuse of fiddles lights up “Comin’ Back To You,” exploding it into the hillbilly side of the Sun, and Jerry Lee Lewis-style rock ‘n’ roll heaven. Guest Wilson Savoy, of the legendary Louisiana brood of Ann Savoy, pounds out the piano, and the requisite drums for it are tapped by the great multi-instrumentalist mountain man, Dirk Powell.
In “House with No Windows,” the melancholy is stunning, and in “Wildbird,” the excitement palpable. Both of those feature just the quartet, and good Lord, can they play and sing! Crisp air, pine boughs, dusty floor board floors and all manner of characters with smiles, and in tears. That and more makes up this music. As Jim Lauderdale recently shouted out about Town Mountain, “They sound like Carolina.” What an excellent record.
– Tom Clarke
Release: April 1, 2016
Label: LoHi Records
Related story: Album review of Town Mountain’s “Dead Session.” LINK