Chatham County Line

Wildwood – 2010 (Yep Roc)

Reviewed by Kevin Oliver

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CDs by Chatham County Line

Never a pure bluegrass act, North Carolina's Chatham County Line have yet to totally forsake their roots in the music of Bill Monroe, either. The band's strength has always been that it records compelling contemporary tunes in a timeless style that appeals to listeners young and old; this latest set of songs continues that trend, echoing the folk and roots side of everyone from Bob Dylan to Uncle Tupelo.

Ringing In My Ears, for example, is a clever Dylanesque run-through of lyrics from a litany of pop and country hits, while The Ghost of Woody Guthrie takes the Bob theme all the way back to its precursor and inspiration.

Dave Wilson isn't the greatest singer in the world, but it is his imperfect tenor that lends the band some traditionalist heft; add in the rest of the group and the tight vocal harmonies on songs such as the gorgeous title cut would be the envy of many a young bluegrass act.

Songs such as Out of the Running are no Stanley or Monroe retreads, but with this album, Chatham County Line have managed to keep the spirit of those patriarchs alive in their music while picking their own path through the wildwood to that place where great American bands grow.