Chatham County Line: Forward Bluegrass

Chatham County Line is the kind of group the term "newgrass" was invented for—i.e. an outfit that keeps evolving its bluegrass core and isn't afraid to venture into virgin territory. The North Carolina quartet's precision picking skills and tight vocal harmonies are as true-blue as you'd expect from an outfit that has shared bills with the likes of The Del McCoury Band—but for them tradition is a background, not a boundary. You're just as likely to find them ripping into an acoustic teardown of Nick Lowe's punky power pop classic "Heart of the City" as leaning into a lonesome mountain lament.

Nowhere is Chatham County Line's blend of the earthy and the adventurous more obvious than on their new live recording, Sight & Sound, an up-close-and-personal document of a show on the band's Raleigh home turf. Over the course of its 16 tracks, you get a whirlwind tour of the foursome's catalog, with in-concert cuts that find CCL tackling tunes from all across their nearly decade-long recording career. Some of the songs are fierce fret-burners ("Nowhere to Sleep," "Gunfight in Durango") and some are piercingly poignant ("Speed of the Whippoorwill"), but they all show how Chatham County Line keeps the spirit of bluegrass in motion. – Jim Allen, Google Play

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