I’ve overlooked Chatham County Line several times in the past few years as just a Plain Jane bluegrass band, but when “Chip of Star” popped up on my Justin Townes Earle Pandora station on Friday, I realized I’d made a horrible mistake. I’ve been listening to their album IV since then and cannot get enough of it.
Typically when young bluegrass bands have great writing and hints of that indie rock sound, they aren’t the best musicians. But CCL, a group of guys from Raleigh that started out playing “just to drink some beer” and made to to SXSW last year, brings it all. They’ve got plenty of stuff that bluegrass purists will like and just as much that progressive bluegrass fans can play in front of their friends…and all of it is talent-filled. Their tracks are full of great stories, interesting melodies and peaky transitions.
On IV, I love the smooth sounds of “Chip of a Star” and “The Carolinian” the best, but then there’s “Birmingham Jail”, which runs through several powerful stories from the civil rights movement, and peppy instrumentals like “Clear Blue Sky.”
See below for a live recording of “Chip of a Star” from a Norwegian radio station.
IV on Amazon MP3