Chatham County Line concerts are intimate affairs, mainly because the members of the Raleigh, North Carolina, quartet huddle close together — often around one microphone — as they perform. Being in such close proximity naturally strengthens their multi-part harmonies; however, it also makes their bluegrass/Americana-rooted music feel especially introspective and meaningful.
Sight & Sound, Chatham County Line’s first widely available live record, captures the essence of the band’s concerts. It’s also a lovely, career-spanning document full of warmth and exuberance. “ClosingTown,” the first song from the band’s 2003 self-titled debut, is confident and wise, in contrast with the homesick melancholy of the original recording. The fiery instrumental “Gunfight In Durango” is a race between John Teer’s fiddle and Chandler Holt’s banjo, while the lovelorn “Speed of the Whippoorwill” and regal folk lament “The Carolinian” let frontman Dave Wilson’s plaintive vocals shine.
Indeed, Chatham County Line doesn’t take any radical detours on Sight & Sound; if anything, the album’s live format merely adds urgency and rawness to its music. Look no further than the harrowing “Birmingham Jail,” a song about the 1963 Alabama church bombing which killed four girls. On Sight & Sound, the tune’s distress and sorrow increase exponentially; as a result, it’s the record’s most powerful moment.