After the release of two successful singles — “Naomi Wise,” and “Heart of Stone” — Lexington, Kentucky progressive acoustic outfit NewTown releases their full album, Old World, August 17 on Mountain Home.
Produced by Barry Bales of Alison Krauss and Union Station, NewTown’s Old World is a selection of material that shows how this band is transforming and rejuvenating traditional Southern music for the modern age. It’s a skilled blending of the conventional and the current.
The music is made dynamic by the shared vocals of Kati Penn Williams and husband Jr. Williams who each chose material for the release. Kati’s haunting lead vocals on the majority of the tracks are of the same ilk as Krauss,’ as she embodies the style of the modern female Bluegrass lead that is more an update to the genre than a sheer departure.
With songs like “Heart of Stone” and “Long Hard Road” from acclaimed Roots/Country/Americana songwriter Tyler Childers, the material of Old Worldmakes a statement about the band’s urgency to push boundaries beyond the expected conventions of Bluegrass.
Upbeat songs like “Evangeline” and “Laura Lee” showcase Jr. Williams’ powerful blues-tinged lead and “The Harvest,” also written by Childers, is delivered low, growly, lonesome and desperate in the most effective way.
Sharing the lead vocal work on “Naomi Wise,” the two capture the heart of the album with its lean on current material that harkens back to British Isles music where the roots genre finds its undeniable origins.
With their band, acclaimed guitarist Aaron Ramsey, ace mandolin player Mitchell Cannon and bass aficionado Travis Anderson, Kati and Jr. are joined on vocals by each of the members and masterfully perform on fiddle and banjo/guitar.