Mountain Fever Records

Blessed with strong voices, above average picking skills, and some real talented songwriters, Hammertowne has come up with a fine recording. Six of the eleven tracks are originals, and all are strong. “Cherokee Maiden” is written to the melody of the fiddle tune “Cherokee Shuffle.” The vocals are all spot-on, regardless of who is taking the lead. Doug Burchett leads on several songs and he gets deep into the lyric and shines as a lead vocalist. Scott Tackett turns in a fine vocal on the moody “Movin’.” It’s easier to judge apples and apples, so when they do tackle a standard, it is a great one. They do a solid reading of “Why Don’t You Tell Me So,” but list it as being public domain. Lester Flatt may be rolling over in his grave. You don’t disrespect one of the elders of bluegrass by not giving him songwriting credits. Come on fellas!

Brent Pack is a strong banjo player, driving the music while staying out of the way when it’s time. Chaston Carroll’s mandolin is sneaky and solid, getting a lot done in a smooth and efficient manner. The band has two guitars, giving it a big sound. You will notice the bass is electric only when it holds a note for several measures. Otherwise, it is solid and clean.

This is a fine release by a band that’s going to make a bigger name for itself in the bluegrass world. The wealth of strong original material, a solid trio, and rich lead vocals highlighted with first-rate picking make for a killer combination. Ending with the old fiddle tune “Sourwood Mountain” lends a nice down-home touch to this recommended release. (Mountain Fever Records,1177 Alum Ridge Rd. NW, Willis, VA 24380, www.mountainfever.com.)RCB

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