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Winners of New England Music Award’s “2017 Roots Act of the Year,” Boston-based Town Meeting returned June 19 with their third full length album, Make Things Better, a rollicking, melodic, foot tapping good time, dripping with harmonies and insightful songs that call to mind the best of The Band, Wilco and Drive-By Truckers.
Comprised of brothers Luke Condon (vocals, guitar), Russ Condon (vocals, drums), Brendan “Babe” Condon (vocals, harmonica, percussion), Tim Cackett (Mandolin, lead guitar, vocals), and Derek Fimbel (bass, banjo, vocals), the quintet have quickly become a force to be reckoned with. Formed in 2013 in Ayer, Massachusetts, they combine their love of 60s folk music with the raw, unbridled energy of punk rock.
On the heels of Geography, Part 1, their debut EP, which spawned the mandolin-driven hit single, “West of Seattle,” and garnered rave reviews from the likes of No Depression and Songwriting Magazine, the band built a fervent following on the Eastern seaboard opening for Bob Dylan, Jason Isbell, Brandi Carlile, Old Crow Medicine Show, Willie Nelson, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, and Sturgill Simpson. From there, the group cemented their place among America’s finest up and coming new acts, performing at the New England Roots Fest, Levitate Flannel Jam, and the Adam Duritz curated Underwater Sunshine Festival in NYC while receiving an invitation to play Willie Nelson’s Outlaw Music Fest.
On the new 10-song opus, Town Meeting lace every song with an infectious energy born from camaraderie. From the joyous, “Bleeding Hearts,” that recalls the best of the Avett Brothers to the hopeful “Answers,” to the Counting Crows tinged “The Fourth Verse” to the good-time Southern Rock vibe of “A Goddamn Song” that infuses soulful melodies with lyrical dexterity, this town meeting is the equivalent of a political rally united by a common cause, to put life’s trumpery on pause.
Harmonica hustle “Fuck The Man” flexes its rebel muscle with a cathartic chorus while “Sometimes The Moon” stakes its plaintive flag in the emotive Jim Croce/James Taylor storytelling of the early 70s. “Forget Me Nots,” a rousing, harmony-laden jam stirs the depths of the soul while “Eulogy,” a haunting meditation on death and the meaning of life, fills a world-weary headspace with poignant lyrics and blue-collar grit. Album closer, “Silence Speak” is a timely call-to-arms ones joined from a distance of six feet hope born from belief.
Imbued with their unique blend of perceptive lyrics and contagious harmonies, Make Things Better is Town Meeting’s most realized effort to date, laying bare all the hope and pain that comes with living and being in love, a signpost to a future free of muck.