Record Of The Week # 90

Corb Lund – Agricultural Tragic

Lund is from farming stock in Alberta, Canada. His continuing foothold in a working life makes his lyrics authentic and authoritative; many are fashioned into stories with pathos or wisdom and others are simply hilarious with fabulous wordplay. His version of modern Western, rockabilly and Alt-Country is a unique sound that’s crafted by a band that has been behind him for over 15 years. The sound is always bordering on live, raw and propelled by Brady Valgardson’s drumming which gives all his releases energy that make you reach to turn the volume up. His 10th release of original material Agricultural Tragic is his strongest album for many years and has a level of consistency that makes it a compelling record.

After last year’s disposable covers album (Cover Your Tracks) Lund declared, “I really worked hard on this album – harder than I ever worked before”. It shows. Over 12 tracks he covers a search for lost mules, tussles with grizzly bears, cowboys’ lives, Western novels, the regret of getting tattoos and debates the merits of whiskey versus gin as a beverage in a knock about duet with fellow Canadian, Jaida Dreyer. Many appear autobiographical or about people he knows: “Old Men” is an observation of generational wisdom – “I want old men making my whiskey, I want old men singing my blues and I want old men teaching my horses. Because there’s some things young men can’t do, like the old boys do”. A thumping bass and attractive guitar from Grant Siemens make this a future crowd pleaser. “Never Not Had Horses” tells the story of an ageing woman coming to terms with her horses also ageing. The sadness of their inevitable and humane end weighs heavily on this near tearjerker.

From sadness Lund can change the mood instantly with several deprecating takes on life. Typically song tempos slow or accelerate as he delivers telling lines. “Tattoo Blues” is spoken and sung but would happily stand alone as spoken poetry. I can imagine audiences knowing this word for word at future concerts. The wordplay is exceptional. “Rat Patrol” is straight good time rock n’ roll as he reveals a pathological hatred of rodents. He’s all for dynamite, gunfire or decapitation to exterminate them. This blood-drenched diatribe is delivered with a call and response with the band. He doesn’t like them!

Terrific fun. He’s a one off and a treasure. Where do I sign?

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