CD Review for 5/21/08 – The Tough & Lovely, Chatham County Line

Compact Capsules for 05/22/08
by Dan Ferguson

The Tough & Lovely
Spoonful Records CD-SR-008

The ‘60s haze hanging over Teardrops from Columbus-based The Tough & Lovely is undeniable. A band as at home in the garage as it is knocking out tuneful, hook-filled melodies, the centerpiece of it all is the tough and lovely voice of Lara Varaz. She wears it well coyly balancing sexy cool and girl group grit on this standout platter which should strike a chord with lovers of everything from Mary Weiss to The Shangri-Las and The Detroit Cobras to The Reigning Sound. (Visit

Chatham County Line
Yep Roc Records YEP-2157

When they started out in 2003, Chatham County Line was pretty much a straight-up bluegrass outfit, and a decent one at that. Over time, the band slowly evolved its sound adding in touches like piano and pedal steel. With their fourth album, the appropriately titled IV, the Chapel Hill-based foursome reach a satisfying melting pot in its sound expansion with bluegrass appeal as much as Americana. Produced by pop maestro Chris Stamey, pop appeal is all over numbers like the gorgeous lead-off track “Chip of a Star”, the acoustic rock-out of “Let It Rock”, and the tender love ballad “One More Minute”, while cuts like “The Carolinian” and “I Got Worry” hold up the hard-driving end of the bargain. Remindful of Pennsylvania faves Frog Holler who’ve hoed similar turf in their roots journey, whereas the unconventional IV may scare off some hardcore bluegrass fans, here’s thinking the varied dimensions in sound will win over plenty of new ones (and even gain some newfound bluegrass converts in the process). Recommended. (Visit

(Dan Ferguson is a free-lance music writer and host of The Boudin Barndance, broadcast Thursday nights from 6 – 9 pm on WRIU-FM 90.3. He lives in Peace Dale and can be reached at [email protected].)<...