Chatham County Line Route 23

Produced by Chris Stamey (Yo La Tengo, Whiskeytown), Route 23 provides enough music to last you through the night on a long road trip with 14 road ready songs. On their sophomore release, this North Carolina quartet squeezes out a succulent offering of bluegrass ballads and front-porch pick-a-longs. Principal songwriter Dave Wilson writes in a narrative style, so stories abound on this travelogue of "newgrass” that chronicles an outlaw existence in such songs as "Arms of the Law.” Wilson has a knack of inhabiting the minds of the characters he sings and writes about, making you believe he was there when some of these tall tales went down. The aforementioned "Louisiana Freight Train” is a soulful bluegrass ballad; here Wilson becomes a man that abandons his wife and sets his sights on the Mexican border. Fellow label-mate and accomplished songwriter Caitlin Cary adds her honey-suckle harmony vocals on this song as well as later on "Saro Jane.” Other highlights include the pair of instrumentals "Gunfight in Durango” and "Sun Up” — hoedowns that would get even the most staid listeners tapping their feet to the frenzied fiddle and galloping banjo that drives these songs. Bluegrass pioneer Bill Monroe would surely be proud of the body of work produced by these mountain music boys. (Yep Roc)