I had a good time listening to this new album by Town Mountain for the first time. Titled Leave The Bottle, this new project starts off with four songs in a row that are fun and upbeat and good. Hailing from Asheville, N.C., the sound of Town Mountain is definitely traditional bluegrass, albeit with a rough-hewn side to it that is not too slick or glossy. They are definitely a band of the here-and-now, yet they have a feel that harkens back to the early string music days of the last century, reminding me of the non-commercial bands that were based outside of Nashville. I enjoyed Town Mountain’s last album on the rejuvenated Pinecastle Records label, called Steady Operator, but I like this one even better.
The group is made up of Phil Barker on mandolin and vocals, Bobby Britt on fiddle, Robert Greer on guitar and vocals, Jesse Langlais on banjo and vocals, and its newest member Jon Stickley on bass, lead guitar, and vocals. Doing an excellent job in the producer’s chair once again is Mike Bub. The first four songs, “Lookin’ In The Mirror,” “Leave The Bottle,” “Up The Ladder,” and “Lawdog,” are all original compositions by the band. “Lawdog” even starts with an old school, a cappella, half-yodel field holler as it kicks into gear. Other highlights include a sweet new instrumental by Britt (who also did fine fiddle work on Andy Thorn’s album Fire In The Sky) called “Four Miles,” the three-finger-driven bluegrass romps “You Weighed Heavy On My Heart” and “Run Junior Run,” about Junior Johnson’s “first” career, and the real country music sounds of “Away From Home.” Asheville continues its tradition of being the source of many good roots music bands, jam sessions and musicians in general. (Pinecastle Records, 2881 NC 108 Hwy. E, Columbus, NC 28722, www.pinecastlemusic.com.)DH