BY LEE ZIMMERMAN
After seven albums and close to two decades of consistent music making, you’d think Chatham County Line would be at least a bit better known. As it is, they linger on the fringes of wider recognition, a consistently credible outfit that’s yet to make a major inroad into the broader bluegrass community. That’s a shame really, because Chatham County Line is much more than your average banjo-playing, fiddle-fueled combo.
Not they negate those elements; rather, they infuse their music with a seemingly effortless accessibility capable of connecting them with a broader Americana audience. And while Tightrope boasts plenty of picking and plucking, the easy glide of songs like “The Traveler,” “Should Have Known” and “Any Port in a Storm” provides a more settled sound compared to the high octane approach favored by most bluegrass bands. Likewise, there’s a flip side to even their most celebratory set-ups; the upbeat title track finds its singer lamenting that… “I might have found love, but it didn’t find me.”
The second half of the album also keeps to a quieter tack, from the tender, touching “Sixteen Years’ to the otherwise unadorned piano ballad “Final Reward” that brings the set to its conclusion. The result is an album that’s unfailingly engaging, and, unsurprisingly, wholly exceptional at that.
DOWNLOAD: “The Traveler,” “Should Have Known,” “Sixteen Years”