Asheville-based Town Mountain was awarded IBMA’s 2013 Momentum Award. The award recognized that early in its career, Town Mountain had potential to make its mark in the crowded field of bluegrass bands. That potential is fully realized in “Southern Crescent,” Town Mountain’s fifth studio album.
Produced by Dirk Powell, “Southern Crescent” is hard-charging, grits-and-gravy authentic, the kind of emotions on the strings music Bill Monroe and Flatt and Scruggs pioneered more than 60 years ago.
But Town Mountain is no copy band. With songs written by each of its members (Phil Barker, Jesse Langlais, Bobby Britt, and Robert Greer), and instrumental and vocal originality, Town Mountain honors the Ancients while bringing a collective and generational identity to their art.
Chapel Hill’s Britt opens the album with the snappy breakdown, “St. Augustine,” evoking images of a clogging team stepping lively their routine on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry.
Songs of escape (“Ain’t Gonna Worry Me”), reunion (“Comin’ Back to You”), alienation (“House with No Windows”), rambling (“Wildbird”), and gambling (“Arkansas Gambler”) present a panorama of sentiments and situations adding heft to the bluegrass canon.
Britt’s fiddle intro and the band’s harmonies on “Long Time Coming,” the railroading title track and the honky-tonk closer, “Whiskey with Tears,” are just a few highlights on this diverse 12-track gem.
Together, they announce that Town Mountain deserves mention with the finest of today’s young bluegrass bands.
Correspondent Jack Bernhardt