Chatham County Line
Classic bluegrass with some fast-pickin’ banjo, mandolin and guitar are what Chatham County Line serve up on their second album, Route 23. Starting with the barn-burning “Nowhere to Sleep,” CCL put the “blue” in bluegrass.
On the title track, CCL chronicle how “the state’s gonna build a new highway, one that’s fast, smooth and wide,” and how it takes a booming mom-and-pop store and buries it. It goes from “the days were long, but the money was good” to “all those good folks left me and daddy and those two lanes behind.” This nostalgia for the days when the world was more relaxed resonates throughout the entire disk.
“Saro Jane” is a more cryptic ballad about waiting for a long-lost love who never shows, while “Dark Clouds” is another morale booster (catch the sarcasm?) about a guy whose life savings were stolen from the bank and his mom and dad die shortly thereafter.
Now, it may seem like after listening to Route 23 you’d either thank the Lord that you aren’t as down as these guys or hang yourself, but that’s not the case. On “Engine 709,” he finds his girl and they set their instruments on fire on the two instrumental tracks “Gunfight in Durango” and “Sun Up.”
With the help of Caitlin Cary on “Louisiana Freight Train” and “Saro Jane,” Chatham County Line, who have also worked with Tift Merritt, make a dynamic album with Route 23. Even if it is the most lyrically depressing album this year, it’s still worth multiple listens.
Chatham County Line: www.chathamcountyline.com