Growing Up with Corb Lund
Corb Lund’s audience has grown up, it seems. On September 9, an oddly sedate crowd (compared to usual) gathered at the Dakota Tavern for a special sneak peek of Lund’s new album, Things that Can’t be Undone. While the event seemed to actually be a television production for CBC, there were clearly some longtime fans present, craning their necks around the cameras to see The Hurtin’ Albertans occupying the Dakota’s tiny stage. And those Hurtin’ Albertans were in fine form; in particular, Grant Siemens was on fire, switching between several instruments and anchoring most of the songs.
Looks like Corb’s brought us to both familiar and new territory with the new album. Songs such as “S Lazy H” give us ever-widening glimpses into his ranching family and past, whereas others like “Run This Town” juxtapose a regretful love narrative onto a wistful melody, his lyrics always open enough for you to impose your own similar experience. One called “Alt Berliner Blues” harkened back to the rockabilly speed of “Mein Deutsches Motorrad”. These were rounded out with some classics: “This is my Prairie”, “Bible on the Dash”, and “Time to Switch to Whiskey”. I was most happy when Siemens really dug into the crunchy riff of “Gettin’ Down on the Mountain”, shaking up the energy of the show a bit.
This show embodied a lot of what I think roots music is doing right now. It’s privileging the original (in songwriting), but using old tricks to draw the audience in. This is something that Lund does well; if you’ve liked Corb albums of yore, from what I can tell, you’ll dig this one too. I heard somewhere that he’s gone all Motown on this record, and that’s what drew me to the show. There were no tambourine players or backup singers with beehives, but I could see the new songs easily going in that direction. To what extent is he playing with originality? Time will tell – the new album is out October 9 – and what’s new for him might be old for others. The best kind of original there is. I think I like where this is going.
Lund plays Nashville, Pembrooke, and Ottawa this weekend. Check out his website for details.