Although guitarist Dave Wilson and multi-instrumentalist Greg Readling earn their living with Raleigh bluegrass/Americana outfit Chatham County Line, it wouldn't be accurate to classify Stillhouse as a side project; it existed before Chatham County Line formed more than a decade ago. Joining the two in Stillhouse are bassist Jay Brown and drummer Zeke Hutchins, and for a time in the early '00s, all four were members of Tift Merritt's backing band.
The Great Reprise isn't far removed from the music of CCL or Merritt. Stillhouse's sound is country-tinged rock 'n' roll, though they're leaning a little heavier on country this time around than on their 2005 debut, Through the Winter. Hutchins (whose main gig nowadays is with Sharon Van Etten) and Brown (who's still in Merritt's band) keep steady yet fluid time. They're reliable but not strict, allowing the songs to breathe and flow soulfully in a way that recalls the warmest moments of early '70s country-rock.
Wilson's warm, rich vocals are the centerpiece, especially on elegiac tracks such as "Say Goodbye" and "To the Light." They stretch toward classic pop on the instantly hummable "Running Away" and ride "Automobile" down bluesy avenues. What really sets Stillhouse apart, though, is Readling's playing; free from his CCL upright bass constraints, he breaks out on pedal steel and piano to fill these songs with radiant melodic color and grace.
Label: Vella Recordings