Corb in the CKUA Studio
The release of Corb Lund’s first outing in three years has sent a reverberation through the music and entertainment communities coast to coast since being released a couple of weeks ago.
That Lund’s latest batch of tunes, stitched together under the banner Cabin Fever, has been the hottest selling album in the land is as welcomed as it is remarkable.
We’re not talking about “hottest selling roots music disc in Canada”, or “best selling country record in the land”, Cabin Fever is rocking retail and out-selling every current pop star with a new release, from Justin Beiber to Taylor Swift.
It’s not that the hometown hero hasn’t had serious success with past releases, both in terms of sales and acclaim, but this turn of events is a reminder that “the cream” can still rise to the top.
I’m reminded of when Gordon Lightfoot’s The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald vaulted over a dozen hot and popular disco tunes in 1976 and the seven-minute epic hit the top of the Billboard Singles charts across the continent. Who saw that coming? It’s the same with this turn of events for Lund who this week was making the rounds to numerous press, radio and television outlets around the province. Incidentally the talented tunesmith and bandleader was his usual obliging, unpretentious and relaxed self as he conducted interviews on the making of Cabin Fever and its contents.
So with the top-selling album in Canada, and CKUA announcers and producers continuing to do their part in exposing audiences to Lund’s latest, it looks as though a real breakthrough is imminent for Lund stateside.
He’s certainly got the attention of major newspapers as both the New York Times and the Washington Post have given Cabin Fever a big thumbs up.
In The New York Times Nate Chinen wrote that “you can almost see the twinkle in Corb Lund’s eye throughout Cabin Fever, an album of pithy mischief and roguish charm, due out on Tuesday. Mr. Lund, who hails from cowboy stock in Alberta, mines his milieu with a catch in his voice and a keen eye for detail.”
He following that observation with “and to his credit Mr. Lund makes it hard to tell which is the truer version of him: the survivalist prophet of “Gettin’ Down on the Mountain,” who resembles a smart-alecky Cormac McCarthy, or the pleading paramour of “September,” who clumsily tries to keep his love from heading back to the big city: “I can picture how you’re living, in a tiny fourth-floor flat/Well there’s times that a thousand acres and the Rocky Mountains can’t compete with that,” . Chinen basically urges his readers to put the album at the top of their shopping or downloading list. And apparently a rave review of Cabin Fever is also set to appear in the upcoming issue of Mojo magazine.
That there are two versions of Cabin Fever available is a reminder that Lund is always thinking outside the box. Recorded in Edmonton at Scott Franchuk’s Riverdale Recorders, Lund decided to cut the tunes in an all-acoustic setting after finishing the tracks for the first go-‘round.
“It is fairly loose but we just picked up a bunch of guitars and mandolins and went at the songs again,” said Lund of the campfire approach to the second disc. Constantly singing the praises of his Hurtin’ Albertan bandmates, Lund at one point singled out the talents of Grant Siemens, whose credit listing in the album liner notes simply says “everything else” in reference to instruments played by the Manitoba native, who joined the band in the late nineties.
“Grant always amazes the rest of us,” Lund said of the multi-instrumentalist and string wizard.
“He’ll pick up an instrument he’s never held before and within five minutes he’s making music with it, good music. It’s like he’s some sort of savant,” added Lund with an accompanying chuckle.
We were fortunate that Lund made time to talk at length about the disc and his career for an upcoming installment of Points North that will air on Sunday September 16 at 3 p.m. and Tuesday September 18 at 6 p.m. on CKUA. In the meantime keep your ears out for the announcement of Lund’s Canadian tour dates that should find him and his Hurtin’ Albertans in the province in early December.
Good on ya Corb and the same goes to everyone in your camp.
Belated congrats are in order to Ian Tyson, and everyone at Stony Plain Records as the Tyson compilation All The Good’uns was officially certified as a gold record during the summer months.
Released in 1996 the collection surpassed the 50,000 sales mark earlier this year and deservedly so. The 19-song set documents the best of Tyson’s cowboy culture output, the majority of it recorded in this province, with the earliest tracks coming from his Old Corrals and Sagebrush set of the early eighties.
Whether it’s interpretive, or taken from first-hand experience, Tyson’s storytelling is remarkable for the clarity, personalized perspective and depth he creates in the space of four or five verses. It goes without saying that the musicality of this body of work is as unique and adventurous as that of any of his contemporaries.
If you haven’t noticed Tyson still has it going on in a big way with his latest release Raven Singer that is also available through Stony Plain Records. As I write this Tyson is readying himself for a gig at the Tractor Tavern in Seattle on September 12 and he’ll be back on home turf for his annual stint at the East Longview Hall from October 12 to 14, although tix for that one may have been snapped up by now.
Franz Joseph Haydn: Menuetti, Hob.IX:16 to Fill
by Capella Istropolitana / Peter Guth