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Corb Lund

Cabin Fever – 2012 (New West)

Reviewed by Terry Roland

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CDs by Corb Lund

Corb Lund and the Hurtin' Albertans may be the hardest working outfit in country music. Their work and growth shows up in the skill and diversity found on their new release, "Cabin Fever." Since his debut in 1995, Lund has specialized in crossing country styles from Texas swing to traditional country with occasional stops in the singing-cowboy influence of Roy Rogers.

This new stream of songs are as varied as they are entertaining and engaging. The secret here is in the successful relationship between the writer and the band. Lund is one fine songwriter. On this new collection, he goes deeper into the rough, dirty edges of country-boogie-blues than in past releases. Songs like Gettin' Down On the Mountain and Dig Gravedigger Dig, open the album with dark and dance-worthy shuffles. Lund then leads a journey through traditional country (Drink It Like You Mean It), some righteous rockabilly (Gothest Girl I Can) country-swing ( Cows Around ) and compelling Dylan-influenced stories of the road (Bible on the Dash featuring Hayes Carll).

The band, The Hurtin' Albertans, has been part of Lund's artistic development in both the studio and on the road for several years. What Lund has generously done is allow the instrumentalists the space to weave through these tunes in a way that adds color and dimension, making this live-in-the-studio production work in a way that is both raw and real. This is really a band, not just back up musicians. The blend of acoustic and electric instrumentation creates a unique country landscape. Grant Seimens' multi-instrumental skill, playing everything from banjo to Dobro to baritone guitar, creates an interplay that is reminiscent of Jackson Browne and David Lindley in the early '70s.

The Limited Edition-Deluxe version of "Cabin Fever" includes live-in-the studio acoustic versions of the songs. What comes from this, which makes the Deluxe version worth the price of admission, is how much sheer joy and lively passion becomes even more pronounced in comparison to the electric versions. For those who have followed Lund's career over the years, the consistency and diversity of this album won't be a surprise. For those who are new to this artist and his band, "Cabin Fever" will be an introduction to one of Canada's finest songwriters.