Chatham County Line's Hiyo is a coming out party in a way for a band that has been a staple of the American folk music scene for over two decades.
Launched just over two decades ago in Raleigh, North Carolina, Chatham County Line initially garnered a devoted local following through their genre-defying live performances - a captivating fusion of bluegrass, folk, country, and rock and roll. Their breakthrough onto the international stage came with the release of their self-titled debut in 2003. Over the ensuing years, the band achieved acclaim, releasing eight critically praised studio albums, securing the top spot on the Billboard Bluegrass Chart four times, and collaborating with artists such as Judy Collins, Sharon Van Etten, and Norwegian sensation Jonas Fjeld.
Their influence extended to Norway, where they earned two gold records and received two nominations for the Spellemannprisen, Norway's equivalent of the Grammy Awards. Sharing stages with musical luminaries like Guy Clark, Lyle Lovett, Steve Martin & Martin Short, and the Avett Brothers, CCL's unique blend of tradition and innovation drew acclaim from NPR, which hailed them as "a bridge between bluegrass traditions and a fresh interpretation," while Uncut praised their "powerful melodies and gorgeous harmonies," and Pitchfork labeled their music "timeless."
The band's latest offering, Hiyo, marks their first release since the departure of their longtime banjo player and serves as a reintroduction to the roots stalwarts. Recorded at Asheville's Echo Mountain studio with co-producer/engineer Rachael Moore (known for her work with Kacey Musgraves, Robert Plant, and Alison Krauss), the collection reflects a trio - Dave Wilson (lead singer/guitarist), John Teer (fiddle/mandolin), and Greg Readling (bass/pedal steel) - embracing change, experimenting with fresh sonic palettes, and employing innovative approaches to their core instrumentation.
While the songwriting maintains the classic Chatham County Line themes of rich, evocative tales spanning love and heartbreak, joy and sorrow, righteousness and revenge, the musical settings have evolved. Synthesizers, drum machines, and an increased presence of electric guitar and percussion redefine the sound. Rooted in the group's string band origins and decades of singing around a single microphone, the results are nothing short of revelatory - a timeless sound invigorated with a new spirit of discovery and vitality.