Naturally, one would suspect that a band billing itself as Overmountain
Men would steer its stance towards archival Americana. And indeed, this
stirring debut album leaves no doubt as to their rugged backwoods
inclinations. There’s star billing, such
as it is, in the person of Bob Crawford, bassist for North Carolina’s Avett
Brothers (whose recordings prior to the recent I and Love and You all appeared on the Ramseur label), but the Overmountain
Men glean mainly from the template established by the Band, courtesy of David
Childers’ mournful vocals and a tattered, tangled sound that’s as weathered as
parchment and equally as resilient. Childers, it should be noted is a bit of a
Tarheel legend himself, a published author and poet and barnstorming root
rocker with a discography stretching back to the mid ‘80s.
While sentimental ballads like “All I Ever Knew” and the
darkly determined “Leaving England” (featuring an adroit trumpet flourish
courtesy of Crawford), it’s the carefree sprawl of “Coney Island Express,” the
rambling banjo plunking of “Some Place Along the River” and the swaying folk
gospel of “Glorious Day” that affirms their handle and provides their country
cred. Odder touches occasionally call
their motives into question – the snappy “Rembrandt,” for example, pays homage
to the revered painter of the same name, while the throaty closing blues medley
“Altar of Greed/Muddy Bottom/The Hunch” sounds like Tom Waits reeling from a
crisis of identity.
Day is a worthy beginning, so vibrant and evocative it’s almost possible to
feel the impending mist of the upper altitudes.
Standout Tracks: “Glorious Day,” “Rembrandt,” “Leaving England” LEE ZIMMERMAN