Chatham County Line: New Album
North Carolina’s Chatham County Line has always had chops. They’ve always been dedicated. They’ve always been loved and respected. But they haven’t always had an identity. Too progressive for bluegrass traditionalists, too rowdy for Americana sticklers and yet too traditional – they are all acoustic, singing and playing around one microphone – for alt-country’s brash guitars, the band has leapt from fencepost to fencepost along the line between musical genres. With their last critically acclaimed studio effort, the immaculate Chris Stamey-produced IV, CCL began to shed its self-consciousness.
If IV was the butterfly emerging from its cocoon, then Wildwood is its first true flight. For the first time Dave Wilson (guitar, lead vocals), Chandler Hold (banjo), John Teer (mandolin, fiddle) and Greg Readling (bass) felt free to create totally unencumbered by classifications. “We don’t care anymore what type of music people consider us. I just focus on writing the best lyrics and melodies I can,” says Wilson. Picking up the notion, Holt continues, “I think it is as simple as people know a Chatham County Line song when they hear it. It has something to do with a strong melody and an honest vocal approach.”
That said, will you hear CCL totally abandon their signature bluegrass workouts or pick up Les Pauls? Hardly, but what you will hear on Wildwood, and for the first time on any CCL album, are drums. So tastefully applied by Zeke Hutchins (Tift Merritt) that you might not even notice them at first, the drums provide the steady yet unobtrusive bottom end to Wildwood. It’s not a shocking move for a band that many fans already refer to as “a rock band with acoustic instruments.”