I’ve read another review that calls Hammertowne’s music “blue collar bluegrass.” If you take that to mean no-nonsense, straight up traditionally crafted bluegrass that honors the greats of bluegrass but stands on their own well-written tunes, well, you’re on the right track.
Since the band hails from eastern Kentucky their bluegrass roots run deep, many of the band members growing up in extended, musically talented families. The band also crosses musical generations, with at least one member out playing in bands long before other members were born, but they’re all united in their love of bluegrass. The band is Chaston Carroll, Dave Carroll, Brent Pack, Bryan Russell, and Scott Tacket, and Hillbilly Heroes is their third album.
The first two songs of the album bode well for what’s ahead; “Don’t Ever Cross A Moonshine Man” speaks of life in the hills, where friends and neighbors are family but foes can only be bitter enemies. And “Hillbilly Heroes” speaks of growing up with bluegrass on the radio, and learning to idolize their heroes: Bill Monroe, Flatt and Scruggs, Ralph and Carter Stanley, the list goes on… and they’ve learned well indeed!
Describing the rest of the album is going to sound like clichés; mine songs, small town blues songs, broken heart and lost love songs … but the songs are so beautifully done that you can’t help but enjoy the ride.
The album closes with the instrumental “Lights And Sirens.” I’ve never heard a bluegrass album “open” with an instrumental, but this one could just pull it off. Instead it’s an entirely fitting closer to the album, showcasing the band’s fine picking.
Hillbilly Heroes is indeed traditional bluegrass, but that doesn’t mean it sounds old. It most obviously descends directly from the bands heroes, but while I can’t quite imagine Bill Monroe and company playing these tunes I can sure bet that the heroes children and grandchildren would love this!
Pick this one up and enjoy!
Mountain Fever Records