Although its title suggests the possibility of some sort of subterfuge, Inside the Lines, the latest album from North Carolina’s Nick Chandler & Delivered, is as revealing and straight-forward as they come. Named an IBMA Official Ramble Showcase Artist in 2019, Chandler and company continue to celebrate their love for traditional bluegrass with an effusive set of songs that’s as varied as it is vibrant. Chandler wrote the majority of its offerings, but all four musicians — Chandler (vocals, mandolin), Will Eller (banjo, vocals), Gray Trivette (bass, vocals), and Hudson Bosworth (vocals, guitar) — combine their talents for a sound that shines in sync.
Chandler himself has earned his place at the top of the marquee, given his years of working the road and picking up any number of accolades in the process. Having been formerly focused on playing Gospel bluegrass, he made a shift of sorts with the band’s highly praised previous album, Groceries, Gas and Used Cars. Its successor, Inside the Lines, suggests that that initial effort wasn’t some sort of fluke, and given the ease and affability invested in these dozen songs, it’s all too obvious that the he and the band have found their true niche.
That already became evident when the album’s lead track, Big Bill Johnson, recently garnered Chandler yet another honor when he named one of this year’s IBMA Showcase Finalists. The song that follows, Two Timer, finds the same uptick in energy, suggesting the two songs may have been birthed simultaneously. After a brief respite with the well measured She’s Come Too Far, A Tree That Stands Alone picks up the pace once again.
The rest of the set follows the same tack. Another of Chandler’s compositions, I Can’t Wait, returns the band to its Gospel roots via the band’s fast, frenzied picking and its spot-on harmonies. The mournful Man Who Drank Her Life Away deals with the tragic end of what should have been an enduring relationship. I Just Got Tired of Being Poor offers a sprightly tale of what turned an otherwise honorable man to a petty criminal. Do You Remember boasts a hook that’s absolutely infectious, while Trviette’s So Sad and Brokenhearted underscores its lovelorn tale with a gentle and supple sway.
In the end, there’s no need to read outside the lines, between the lines, or anywhere else. All that’s required to fully appreciate Nick Chandler & Delivered’s astute efforts is easily found here, Inside the Lines.