Deep Chatham’s second release, Flood, is a slightly more modern take on foot-stomping bluegrass and stripped-down Delta blues that keeps all the romanticism of the old with the temptation of the new.
The North Carolina quartet includes guitarist Julian Sikes, upright bassist Jeff Loops, fiddle and banjo player Matt Heckler and recently added pianist and accordion player Trevor Grassi.
Sikes’ slightly scratchy, country voice matches easily with the Appalachian-style songwriting, characterized by descriptive storytelling that often references the Bible, Mother Nature in rivers, animals and mountains, and the Devil in a large recurring villainous role.
“Tend to Lose” is one of the more mainstream-leaning tracks. The combination guitar picking and strumming along with the beautifully harmonizing piano and fiddle create a settled backdrop for Sikes’ dragging vocals, painting a woeful tale. The detailed composition of each instrument carries its own anecdote of misfortune and, when entangled together, subtle layers of coordinated timelines give depth to the aggregated arrangement.
In “O.D. Blues,” the group focuses on the slow, raw blues and makes bluegrass secondary. Twangy, ringing guitar picking, front porch strumming and organic ticking beats with the added fiddle vibrato and double stops produce an old dirt-road feel. Even the way the pitch rises when Sikes sings, “blues” in “you got them O.D. blues” is reminiscent of the way Delta blues artists would purposefully add an old-timey accent to a few words in a song.