Chatham County Line Speed of the Whippoorwill

On this follow-up to their self-titled debut, the North Carolina bluegrass outfit team up with alt-country production legend Brian Paulson with stunning results. While the four members are fiery players, the emphasis here seems to be more on songwriting, and they reveal a more contemporary approach overall. However, the themes continue to be rooted in the past, with "Company Blues,” "Rock Pile” and "Confederate Soldier” emerging as standout tracks. As might be expected, Paulson captures the performances without any frills, and although this album’s vibe isn’t as heart-stopping as, say, any of Gillian Welch’s work, the tones are well-balanced and warm. It’s certainly admirable that Chatham County Line have chosen to present themselves as a truly "modern” bluegrass band, as opposed to relying on technical theatrics. It may not bring mass acceptance from bluegrass die-hards, but for anyone who appreciates honest, well-written and well-performed songs, Speed of the Whippoorwill is an album that the everyday alt-country fan can embrace without hesitation. (Yep Roc)