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Speed Of The Whippoorwill

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Album Review

On their third album in four years, Chatham County Line enlisted producer Brian Paulson to help them bring their raw & ready vision to digital. Featuring ten new Dave Wilson originals, a co-write between him and mandonlinist John Teer, a Teer original, and one by banjoist Chandler Holt, along with a cover of Don Robertson, the formula isn't all that different — most of this is contemporary bluegrass that could have been recorded in the heyday of the Stanley Brothers or Bill Monroe's Bluegrass Boys. Speed of the Whippoorwill is more sophisticated, however, mostly in the lyrics of Wilson, who employs humor along with heartbreak in his songs. There is a more Mark Twain-like view of the world, even if it is obvious in places. Check the lyrics to "By the Riverside": "Skipped out of work, just to ease my thoughts/Went down to the riverside, just to get lost/Got some fishing line and a hickory limb/Sat there thinking about Huck & Jim." The bluegrass stomp is plentiful here and it always works: "Company Blues," "Rock Pile," the breakdown "Savoy Special," and "Coming Home." Less successful are the ballads, such as the Louvin Brothers-inspired "They Were Just Children" and "Waiting Paradise." They're too long, even as story-songs, and they are wordy and overly redundant of their forbears. However, the swinging bluegrass of "Day I Die" is tight, melodic, full of killer harmonies, and punchy as all get out. "Confederate Soldier" is a straight-up country tune with Greg Reading playing pedal steel, and lyrically it works, but again, it takes too long for the story to reveal itself. For those who enjoyed the first pair of Chatham County Line records, this one will not come as a surprise, but will appear more adventurous. For those just coming to the band, either the band's self-titled debut or Route 23 would be better places to begin.


Formed: 1999 in Raleigh, NC

Genre: Country

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Merging a traditional bluegrass sound and first-class picking with pithy songwriting that often confronts personal issues and political matters head on, Chatham County Line are a North Carolina foursome who first came together in 1999. In the mid-'90s, guitarist Dave Wilson was a member of a country-rock band called Stillhouse, whose sound merged Gram Parsons and Neil Young, when he met Greg Readling, a pedal steel player who could also handle upright bass. Both were interested in the possibility...
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Speed Of The Whippoorwill, Chatham County Line
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