A staple of the North Carolina music scene for two decades, Raleigh, NC’s Chatham County Line introduces a new sound and line up with the release of their ninth studio album, Strange Fascination, out May 15 on Yep Roc Records.

“Station to Station,” the lead single, which adds to the band’s repertoire of train songs, debuts today; listen to the song here. Strange Fascination is now available for pre-order.

Twenty years into the band’s career, Strange Fascination marks a turning point in their steady growth and evolution, serving as both the final release with co-founding banjo player Chandler Holt, the first line-up change since 2001, and the first to feature drums on every song.

The core of CCL—Dave Wilson (guitar/vocals/songwriter), John Teer (mandolin/fiddle/vocals), and Greg Readling (bass/pedal steel/piano)—now welcome percussion to its line-up with long time friend of the band Dan Hall on drums. “We’ve had drums on several albums, most notably 2010’s Wildwood, and our audience always responded well to those tunes,” says Dave Wilson. A 10th-anniversary special edition of Wildwood will be released on March 6.

Produced by Dave Wilson and the band, Strange Fascination was recorded at Mitch Easter’s Fidelitorium Recordings in Kernersville, NC. The band was joined in-studio by Yan Westerlund (Mipso, Phil Cook) on drums, and the album was mixed and engineered by Chris Boerner (Hiss Golden Messenger, The Foreign Exchange).

From the dreamy “Oh Me Oh My” to the chugging rhythm bolstered by lively piano and harmonica of “Free Again,” a song that looks at the American Dream to “Queen Anne’s Gold,” a folk tale about the North Carolina coast which recounts the legend of Blackbeard and his shipwreck, Dave Wilson’s songwriting is “very true and honest,” says Greg Reading.

Further representing a new era for the band, Sharon Van Etten’s guest vocals on the title track mark the first guest vocals since the band’s debut. The title track also inspired the group to move away from their signature single microphone set up in live shows.

The band will embark on a spring and summer tour in support of the release beginning March 20, and will be special guest to The Avett Brothers at the annual Azalea Festival in Wilmington, NC on April 4. A full list of dates is below.

2019 was a banner year for CCL with Sharing The Covers, a collection that features interpretations of songs by Beck, The Stanley Brothers, and The Rolling Stones, among others, topping Billboard’s bluegrass chart. A second number one followed with Winter Stories, a collaborative album with American folk icon Judy Collins and Norwegian legend Jonas Fjeld.

In between tour dates with Collins and Fjeld, the band supported Steve Martin and Martin Short on the comedians’ Now You See Them, Soon You Won’t tour. They also made appearances at Merlefest, Telluride Bluegrass Festival, and AmericanaFest, among other festivals, and toured the U.S. extensively playing theatres and clubs.

CHATHAM COUNTY LINE TOUR DATES

March 20 – Suwannee Spring Reunion – Live Oak, FL

March 21 – The Attic – Tampa, FL

March 22 – Daniels Pavilion – Naples, FL

April 3 – The Ramkat – Winston-Salem, NC^

April 4 – Azalea Festival – Wilmington, NC*

April 18 – Mills River Cidery-Food Truck Fest – Mills River, NC

April 19 – Eddie’s Attic – Decatur, GA

April 30 – De Casino – Sint Niklass, Belgium

May 1 – Roots and Roses Festival – Lessines, Belgium

May 16 – International Buhl Bluegrass Festival – Buhl, Germany

June 26 – Lee Street Theatre – Salisbury, NC

June 27 – Yadkin Cultural Arts Center – Yadkinville, NC

^with The Barefoot Movement

*with The Avett Brothers

Strange Fascination Tracklisting:

  1. Oh Me Oh My
  2. Station to Station
  3. Strange Fascination
  4. Free Again
  5. The Eagle and The Boy
  6. Leave This World
  7. Guitar (for Guy Clark)
  8. Queen Anne’s Gold
  9. Nothing