There’s something to be said about putting one’s music where one’s mouth is. Simply put, that means not only tapping into a traditional template but also sharing the stories that are compatible with its vintage origins.
That’s the mantra that Hammertowne embraces. The Kentucky five piece — consisting of Chaston Carroll (mandolin, lead and harmony vocals), Dave Carroll (guitar, lead and harmony vocals), Bryan Russell (bass, lead and harmony vocals), Scott Tackett (lead vocals) and Dale Thomas (banjo) — carry on a family tradition in song and style, with a narrative that enthusiastically shares the praises of home and hearth. There’s obviously no doubt about the inspiration or origins of their sound — it’s reverent, homespun, and seeped in the bluegrass basics, while wholly infused with taut melodies, heartfelt sentiment and an infectious energy that consistently manages to transcend any preconceived boundaries. Yet, that appreciation for a life that incorporates certain tender trappings and down home sentiment, still manages to resonate through every offering on their upbeat new album for Mountain Fever Records, the aptly titled Pictures. Indeed, given the postcard imagery of these expressive stories, there’s no better way to sum up their decidedly stoic stance.
As a result, each song provides a singular tale of its own. With their descriptive titles, the narratives lend themselves to creating an idyllic impression. These Pictures Mean a Whole Lot More These Days, Aunt Birdie’s Wing Back Chevrolet, Now It’s Back to the Old Homeplace, Rosa Lee, and Anna & Susanna all dig deep into nostalgia by sharing warm and fuzzy memories of times gone by. Even so, the music remains as upbeat as it is emotive, suitably expressive for the heartfelt homilies Hamertowne so effectively convey. Theirs is a mix of honesty and integrity that eschews any temptation to succumb to trendy temptation. It’s refreshing in that regard, and no less appealing by default.
Granted, cynicism and disdain for sweet sentiment of this sort is pretty prevalent these days, but Hammertowne reminds us that even the most seemingly old fashioned precepts ought never be dismissed as a sound that’s out of sync or out of style.