Since forming in 2012, Hammertowne continues to write and perform high-quality and original songs. This collection, the fourth album for the band, is no exception. The title-track, “Those Pictures Mean A Whole Lot More These Days,” was written by guitarist and lead and harmony vocalist David Carroll, as was the first single release from the project. Bluegrass Today said, “It’s a moving song based on Carroll’s loss of his mom in a tragic house fire and the pictures the family took four months earlier on her 91st birthday. The message is how much more mementos mean after such a loss, and we should cherish our loved ones while we have them.” Carroll also wrote “Bad Tom Smith,” “The Matewan Massacre,” and “Tell Me Something I Ain’t Heard Before.” All are solid additions to the recording.
“Bootlegger’s Blues” comes from Larry Cordle, Larry Shell, and Mark Brinkman, a perfect song for this Eastern Kentucky band. The band also covers nicely Pine Mountain Railroad’s “Aunt Birdie’s Wing Back Chevrolet.” Elmer Burchett’s “Now It’s Back To The Homeplace” might remind the listener of Crowe’s New South, as well as Tony Rice’s solo recordings. Bass player and vocalist Bryan Russell contributes “Andy & Susanna,” getting a driving treatment for a love song. The band also turns in a fine cover of another Pine Mountain Railroad song, “My Eyes Shall Be On Canaan’s Land,” written by Cody Shuler. Carroll’s son, Chaston Carroll, handles the mandolin duties and contributes to the vocals, as does Bryan Russell on bass. Dale Thomas plays the banjo and Scott Tackett contributes vocals. Ron Stewart is the guest fiddler on several tracks and plays resonator guitar on one.
Hammertowne has developed a sound of their own and stands apart from many of the bands we enjoy today. As the liner notes indicate, the band didn’t have a theme for this album per se. They say, “The songs kind of chose us.” You’ll be happy if you choose to add them to your collection. (Mountain Fever, 1177 Alum Ridge Rd. NW, Willis, VA 24380, www.mountainfever.com.)BW