Hammertorch: Lions Don't Cry

Southern rock has had its torch blazing through the sound waves for over 30 years, and with its new release, Lions Don’t Cry, Hammertorch has not only kept that flame rising, it has infused that heartfelt, country born, rock’n and roll’n with a contemporary pop awareness that leaves listeners warm with the comforts of traditional country-rock and deep-fried in a vat of tastefully restrained guitar work. What separates Lions Don’t Cry from the rest of neo-southern rocker attempts to recreate the seemingly unrecreatable, is an undeniable focus on songwriting and a crafty sensibility of where to let the songs loosen their belts and let it all hang out.

Careful not to let it all hang out all the time is evident of the first cut of the album, “Cemetery Dance,” where slick pedal steel work and a steady back beat are smothered and never dothered with one of the most memorable guitar riffs to hold its place in the Nashville arena of unforgettable guitar work. One could have easily written a song solely based on this riff alone, but what turns out to be the most amazing facet of this song is the song itself: beautiful lyrics that make you covet the emotions as if they were your own and a tremendously catchy arrangement. “Cemetery Dance” sets the album off in a direction that has all the fix’ns in all the right places; this is a great album and a great BAND!

After the first cut, these doctors of Southern rock don’t leave your innards hang’n out; instead they mend your heart with some smooth ballads like “Back to the Country,” “Fire Eyes” and most notably, “Too Little Too Late.” “Too Little Too Late” has that chest tingling, head ring’n sound that takes you to a warm giddy place in a slow dance daze, remembering to keep your head up and your hands on the wheel.

Don’t let your tree get too sappy cuz there are plenty of tracks on this album that keep your foot stomp’n and your heart thump’n, like Roger McFadden’s “Danger Society,” “Breakneck Speed” and especially “Green Grass and Slower Footsteps.”

The production on Lions Don’t Cry is truly seasoned with experience and a delicate ear for the subtle nuances that capture this great band as they are and should be. For all you could bes and have beens, you might ought take note of the folks involved on this record; they’re on their way.

Lions Don’t Cry may not be for all of you, but I guarantee it is for some of you. If you like Wilco with a bit more twang in its thang, you’ll love a song or 10. If you like Saves The Day, you might as well save your money, unless you’re a producer/engineer, because it doesn’t matter what music your into, Lions Don’t Cry and its faders got the right touch.

J. Clive Morris