Last month, Chatham County Line released their fifth CD, Wildwood, on Yep Roc Records. This recording further develops the band’s unique sound. Describing themselves as too progressive for bluegrass traditionalists and to traditional for the alt-country crowd, the band has labored to find their place in the landscape of American music.
With this new recording, they simply abandoned efforts to find an accurate label for themselves and recorded the music they wanted to make regardless of genre label. The result is perhaps their most honest recording to date, and it does defy labeling.
“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.”
Still featuring banjo, mandolin, acoustic guitar, upright bass, harmonica, and fiddle, the band subtly added drums to this recording, but in a tasteful way that won’t even be noticeable to the casual listener. The vocals at time reminded me of early Dillon recordings. The songwriting has a distinctly folk-rock feel to it.
There are several tunes on the CD that are sure to become Chatham County Line favorites. The title track Wildwood is one, as is the ballad Alone In New York and the folk sounding tune Crop Comes In.
For those who have enjoyed past outings by Chatham County Line, this CD is sure to please. For those who have never given the band a listen, there couldn’t be a better time. Just don’t expect to hear something you can easily fit into a genre classification on your iPod!