A five man outfit borne from the foothills of Eastern Kentucky, Hammertowne imbue both authenticity and emotion into their latest offering, tellingly-titled You Can Learn A Lot From a Song. The band — Scott Tackett on vocals, Dale Thomas on banjo, Chaston Carroll on mandolin and vocals, Bryan Russell on bass and vocals, and Dave Carroll on guitar and vocals — makes for a tight-knit combo whose founding members met by chance at a recording session, and were so wowed by their cohesion and compatibility that their choice to permanently share their skills was practically a no-brainer. Now, some ten years and five albums on, it’s clear their decision was obviously a good one.
The band adheres to a traditional bluegrass approach, replete with high harmonies and the synchronized picking of guitar, mandolin and banjo, and in this case, added fiddle from special guest, Ron Stewart. Yet in the midst of that flash and finesse, Hammertowne also shares a sensitive side. The title track, written by Dave Carroll, and one of only two band-written original compositions (the other, Take That, was written by Russell), is a tender ballad that effectively conveys all the sensitivity its title implies. So too, Life’s Highway and These Old Boots convey earnest emotions, albeit at a mid tempo pace.
That said, it’s equally impressive hearing the group apply their combined voices to the traditional gospel tune, Can’t You Hear Jerusalem Moan, providing, in the process, another example of their variety and versatility.
Mostly though, the band excel at conveying the kind of rousing revelry that keeps audiences eagerly enthralled. That especially applies to the upbeat closer I’m Going Sailing, the driving delivery of Mostly You, and the erstwhile ode to the state next-door, I’m Coming Home To Tennessee. All in all, You Can Learn A Lot From A Song comes across as an especially well-rounded effort, given that all the lessons they refer to are clearly conveyed with eloquence and enthusiasm.