Old Town Flood make a formidable impression with their impressive debut offering, The Roses, a set of songs that finds melody absolutely on par with musicality. That in itself says something, considering the considerable talent the band appears to have at their command. Then again, they’re not exactly shy when it comes to defining their “mission” on their website. “Old Town Flood delivers innovative tunes that represent the personalities of these five musicians,” they proudly proclaim. “We share a common love for bluegrass and country music, and look to honor those genres with our product. We hope to leave an emotional impression on your soul after a show or listening to our tunes!”
That’s a fairly bold statement coming from a band of rookies, but it’s one they seem well equipped to live up to. The quintet, consisting of singer/guitarist Mike Gaumer, mandolin player/vocalist Jack Dunlap, bassist/baritone vocalist Danny Stewart, banjo player/tenor singer Haley Stiltner, and dobro player Henry Johns, maintains an affinity for bluegrass basics, but also offer an emotional reach that gives each offering both an added dimension and a singular charm.
These pickers should be familiar to those who have followed the bluegrass scene closely of late. Stewart and Stiltner also perform with the US Navy’s Country Current, and Dunlap is a veteran of a number of capitol area bands. Their playing is polished and precise — witness the fluidity of their delivery on the album’s astute instrumental, Dogan’s Run — but they also imbue each effort with enough resonant refrains to allow the songs to stand on their own.
That said, the best examples of Old Town Flood’s dynamic and dexterity are found on songs such as Find the Time, I’ll Be Gone, Tears and Memories, and Don’t Even Try, which, despite their somewhat pessimistic titles, turn out to be sterling examples of a sound that’s as exuberant as it is engaging. That ability to express their emotions so effusively shows they’re also unwilling to waste any time while creating an emphatic impression. Other tracks — Innocence Alone, Lessons of a Broken Heart, and Faded Love — come across with equal measures of drive and determination. In fact, with the exception of the forlorn ballad, One Way Train, there’s not a single song that doesn’t possess that upbeat impulse.
Naturally, it’s no small challenge to establish one’s sound in a genre where only excellence sets the standard. Ultimately then, this dynamic debut suggests that whatever follows will be cause for ever-increasing anticipation. While consistency is key, The Roses suggests Old Town Flood will remain in full bloom.