Chatham County Line Chatham County Line

With too many young bluegrass bands opting to appeal to audiences through outlandish showmanship or cornball irony, this debut from the North Carolina quartet is a refreshing echo of the music’s golden age, albeit with a contemporary sensibility. While the members are clearly great musicians, the emphasis is squarely placed on Dave Wilson’s songs, which often owe more to John Prine than Bill Monroe. Wilson also plays guitar for singer/songwriter Tift Merritt, so it might be expected that he wouldn’t be a bluegrass purist, but the middle ground that Chatham County Line finds between the two camps is a compelling stylistic mix. The album is also another fine production by alt-rock legend Chris Stamey, who once again displays a keen ear for capturing a live, woody sound. They may not be immediately hailed as the future of bluegrass, but Chatham County Line has made a record that is thoroughly enjoyable, especially in relation to other "newgrass” artists overly conscious of trying to one-up their forebears. (Bonfire)