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Town Mountain – ‘Lines in the Levee’ review

Emotive fiddle, succulent strings and relatable lyrics – dive right in!

Town Mountain
Credit: Emma Delevante

Combining eastern US mountain music with a mid-west honkytonk heart, North Carolina band, Town Mountain’s ‘Lines in the Levee’ album (New West Records) is a hardworking blend of bluegrass, altcountry and folk music, drawing on their Appalachian heritage to bring you life and death in eleven songs.   

The six members of Town Mountain – Phil Barker, Bobby Britt, Robert Greer, Jesse Langlais, Miles Miller and Zach Smith – have a decade of performing on stages across the US and they acknowledge this is a sound they’ve been working towards, citing influences as varied as Grateful Dead, Chuck Berry, Townes Van Zandt and Bill Monroe.

There are some stand out tracks in the forty-five minutes of music, including ‘Firebound Road’, released previously as a single alongside title track ‘Lines In The Levee’ and ‘Seasons Don’t Change’ is an engaging, upbeat dance hall song of a track that draws on their on-the-road experiences and demonstrates their deft lyrical ability. 

‘Rene’ is a stunningly beautiful ballad, lamenting loss while at the same time portraying strength, with lyrics such as, “Ain’t much a man can do when his road twists and turns/hold tight to the wheel boy and steady on the curve” and then later, “if I should fall out on the road so many miles from home/please know that I’m not leaving, no you’ll never be alone/be the tall trees on the mountain when you see them nod and sway”.  Juxtapositions, nature and string-driving rhythm gives this song a deeper resonance than a four minute song normally permits; this is a hell of a string band.

‘Season’s Don’t Change’ is a pure mountain song, with a great fiddle solo at the end of the track, which I don’t think I’ve heard outside Charlie Daniels’ The Devil Came Down To Georgia. 

A Tex-Mex Cantina border sound is the focus of ‘Daydream Quarantina’.  After a performance hiatus, the band can’t wait to raise Cain and ring Hell’s Bells once more. And I bet they do.

‘Unsung Heroes’ is an epic song in content, sounding far longer than its four and a half-minutes would suggest, with a larger-than-life hook, “in a hundred years, it won’t matter anymore” while ‘American Family’ is an upbeat, glass-raising, quick step of a song and just another demonstration of their literary lyrical prowess.

Town Mountain’s Lines In The Levee is an album full of emotive fiddle, relatable lyrics and succulent strings.  

Tracklist: 1. Lines in the Levee 2. Comeback Kid 3. Distant Line. 4. Firebound Road 5. Rene 6. Season’s Don’t Change 7. Daydream Quarantina 8. Big Decisions 9. Unsung Heroes 10. American Family 11. Lean Into The Blue  Record Label: New West Records Release Date: 7th October Buy ‘Lines in the Levee’ now

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