This eminently talented Lexington, Ky.-based band is simply a delight. NewTown’s sound is largely framed around powerful lead vocals from husband and wife team Kati Penn-Williams (vocals and fiddle) and Jr. Williams (vocals and banjo). Also key to the band’s immense appeal is the inspired songwriting of guitarist C.J. Cain, who composed six of the ten tracks on Time Machine, their second album. His songs more than hold their own alongside other tracks in this collection penned by Guy Clark (“Dublin Blues”), Julie Miller (“All My Tears Be Washed Away”) and Paul Kennerley (“A Train Robbery”).
No less essential to NewTown’s power and persuasion is the sizzling yet steady fire and precision that transpires when the entire band (which is rounded out by Clint Hurd on mandolin and harmony vocals, Terry Poirier on lead vocals and bass, and producer Jim Surrett on resonator guitar) pulls out the stops on selections like “All I Was To You,” “Rounder” and “Elmer T” (all three penned by Cain).
All in all, the fine music on Time Machine more than lives up to the praise John Cowan gives on the liner notes he wrote for the album. NewTown, in his estimation, is a “band in the truest, and very best sense of the word…with some of the finest songwriting in a contemporary band I’ve heard in a good long while.” Cowan’s not just blowing smoke either. All the captivating earmarks on Time Machine indicate that NewTown is an outfit we’ll be hearing a lot more from in days to come. (Pisgah Ridge, P.O. Box 829, Arden, NC 28704, www.crossroadsmusic.com.)BA