Daily Dose: Chance McCoy, “Wander Wide”

Music Features Chance McCoy
Daily Dose: Chance McCoy, “Wander Wide”

Daily Dose is your daily source for the song you absolutely, positively need to hear every day. Curated by the Paste Music Team.

You might recognize Chance McCoy as the guitarist from popular alt-bluegrass group Old Crow Medicine Show, but that band membership is far from his first—or last—musical endeavor.

McCoy didn’t discover old-time music until his 20s, at which time he made quite an entrance into the genre: Armed with his guitar and a new fiddle, he learned from expert Appalachian players thanks to a program funded by the National Endowment for the Arts. He eventually learned the banjo and dulcimer, too, and started touring the country with a group called the Appalachian String Band. But life as a traveling musician didn’t prove especially fruitful: McCoy says he was “struggling to survive” as he and his young son endured poverty.

But then he received an invitation to join OCMS and not even three years later, in 2015, he was holding a Grammy for Best Folk Album for the band’s Remedy. After a successful few years playing with the group, an experience McCoy “loved,” he’s stepping out on his own with a solo record, Wander Wide, which arrives Sept. 20. The latest single from the record, after last month’s “Lonesome Pine,” is the title track, which you can listen to below.

The dynamic “Wander Wide” is an ode to restlessness, the need to keep moving, traveling and experiencing (which McCoy has done plenty of). The ample slide guitar on the track might suggest a country song, but a steady, groovy beat feels more like Americana. McCoy’s layered falsetto isn’t all that distant from Justin Vernon’s. It all amounts to a glistening folk-rock tune that wouldn’t feel out of place on a playlist with classic The Head and the Heart and The Lumineers tracks. The song takes us along the “waters of the coast” and by the “tall pines where they grow,” but the refrain has McCoy promising, “Soon I’ll be home.” Paying no disservice to OCMS, McCoy sounds more at home on this song. The atmospheric production suits him, and if its title track is any indication, he may have one of the better alt-folk debuts this year on his hands with Wander Wide.

We could yammer on, but no one sums up this tune better than McCoy himself:

From my great great great GREAT grandaddy who floated across the Atlantic to the Americas, to being a broke ass musician busking on the street corners of Harpers Ferry, West by God Virginia, wandering is what we McCoy’s do. No matter how glorious it seems, we artists always have to leave something behind and this song catches the beautiful sentiment of discovering the unknown along with the melancholy of leaving behind those we love.

Again, you can listen to “Wander Wide” below and watch a 2013 clip of Old Crow Medicine Show performing at Newport Folk Festival via the Paste archives further down.

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