Under the Snow: A Canadian Music Expose #3

Corb Lund: Dashing, ain't he?

Back in the day, Corb was bassist for the Canadian legends, the smalls (expose’d last week) and a tour de force of personality and creativity.

In 1995, Lund released the first album from Corb Lund and the Hurtin’ Albertans:
Modern Pain

Re-released in 2003 with three additional tracks, Modern Pain is old school country, seen through the eyes of a punker. Starting off with the rocking, weighty and engaging Expectation and the Blues, it’s one of those albums that first exposes you to the strength of Corbs lyrical wit, and personal delivery. Swift, clear, harmonic and insightful, Corbs vocals soar above classic Country/rock compositions. This includes the dark, and philosophical Lament for Lester Cousins (later re-recorded forHorse Soldier! {Editted thanks to Peter}), a country versionof Waste and Tragedy (a track from the album of the same name by the smalls, also released the same year), and the strong and thrumming Heavy and Leaving. Guitars, banjos, harmonicas and vocal harmonies dash and prance in delight through out this album. As a debut, it is hard to fault this album anything other than perhaps a touch of similarity across the album.

Unforgiving Mistress
Second album by the band, 1999, and picking up a much more latin folk influence, with Corb’s lyrics remaining as always, intelligent, thoughtful and occasional delightfully funny. The dry edged and swift guitar picking Young and Jaded stands out, as well as the charmingly string driven Case of the Wine Soaked preacher. The album is probably my least favourite in the collection, but largely because very few songs jump out at me, though, Where has My Soldier Gone? is a must listen piece of latin guitar-work.

5 Dollar Bill
2002, the band releases the 3rd album (the first to officially recognize the Hurtin Albertans), and it recieves an impressive amount of publicity. With good reason; 5 Dollar Bill is Corbs talent reaching maturity, and his compositions and lyrics are yet another step above. Including a re-recorded version of Expectation and the Blues (which I feel has more rich sound than the original), the album has some real stunners; The title track, 5 Dollar Bill is funny, charming, bouncy and fun. No Roads Here, is a string backed haunting melody, a poetic and racing ode to the prairies. As always, Corb wears his rural heritage on his sleeve proudly. There are no weak tracks on this delightful work, and it is rightfully acknowledged for it’s influence.

Hair in My Eyes Like a Highland Steer
This 2005 release, rocketed Corb into the publics eye, earning play in the CBC, CMT, BBC, and other places around the world. From the energetic, boastful and mischevious opening title track, Hair in My Eyes is a non-stop rush of emotional soundscapes laid out by a master. There’s the old-school advise track, Always Keep and Edge on Your Knife, which includes some truly witty word-play, good advice and a damn catchy sound…also includes tongue in cheek yodelling. There’s the beautiful, lamenting The Truth Comes Out, about the slow death of the natural world: from the mouth of one who grew up in the edges of the wilds. There is a track for everyone on this album.

Horse Soldier! Horse Soldier!
Late 2007, the band releases possibly their most powerful work to date. A psuedo-concept album loosely built around horses/human relationships and the rural lifestyle as well, the album also carries a strong martial tint, and includes some of the bands most mature compositions (and one of their funniest). The opening track, I Wann Be in the Cavalry is charmingly martial, a march to join the army to. Optimistic and instantly toe-tappingly catchy; it’s nearly the perfect way to draw someone into the album. The album has too many stand-out tracks to detail, but in particular, A Leader on Losing Control is an amazing example of Corbs lyrical skills; without needing a chorus, he tells you a dark tale about violence and control. This is country on the scale with Johnny Cash, or Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson or Kris Kristofferson. There is an AWESOME spanish guitar driven cover of the smalls – My Saddle Horse Has Died. AWESOME. Must get album.

Losing Lately Gambler
2009, the most recent album (so far) and more of a return to Hair in My Eyes than a continuation of Horse Soldier!, Losing Lately Gambler is probably the funnest album, only slightly ahead of Hair in My Eyes. Opening with an ode to veterinarians, and the dumb assness of humanit. Kind of dark musically, but cheeky and funny, the albumhas a bunch of stomping delights, including the brilliant Talking Veterinarian Blues, a gleefully pragmatic track, that is very easy to get sucked into bobbing along. There’s the back-handed ode to Saskatchewan, which is another example of the inter-provincial competition that exists in Canada.

Having spoken about them, allow me to present you with a video or two from each 😉

From Hair in My Eyes:
The Truth Comes Out:
The Truck Got Stuck:

From Horse Soldier! Horse Soldier!:
I Wanna Be in the Cavalry:
Family Reunion:

From Losing Lately Gambler:
A Game in Town Like This:
Devils Best Dress:

From 5 Dollar Bill:
Roughest Neck Around:

I can offer you no more, than to suggest with my strongest conviction that you take the time to get to know one of Canada’s most impressive musicians.

-Speaking from the Soapbox: “Listen to good music!”


About Messianic Rebel
Crazier than expected...

2 Responses to Under the Snow: A Canadian Music Expose #3

  1. PACW says:

    I’ve always believed in my heart that Country music is divided into Waylon Jennings and everybody else. So it was with a bit of trepidation that I listened to Mr. Lund’s version of “Are you sure Hank done it this a way”. I like Corb Lund and did not want the love to end. Still loving Corb Lund! He managed to make the song his, while showing proper respect to Mr Jennings. Didn’t think it would be possible.

    • You can feel that Lund grew up on the greats. There’s a strong element taken from all his major influences, from Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings to Steve Earle and Stomping Tom Connors.

      Corb will be one of the next great country legends, I am sure.

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