While it is perhaps unfair to put too much focus on the producer of an album, the current weight of having a production credit from Dave Cobb (Jason Isbell, Jamey Johnson) is certain to garner notice from fans of high quality songwriters. Cobb's recent albums have an organic sound showcasing his natural ability to push an artist to realize their full creative potential. Canadian artist Corb Lund decided to work with Cobb on his latest release, and the results are eye opening.
With seven solo albums, in addition to multiple recordings with his punk outfit The Smalls, Corb Lund is no stranger to the recording process. From the rough experimental folk sounds of his releases in the '90s to the polished Nashville sound of "Losin' Lately Gambler" to the raw energy of a Sun Studios session, Lund has worked hard to realize his musical vision.
Right from the opening bars of "The Weight of the Gun," it is clear that Lund has benefited from Cobb. Lund has always explored various musical styles, from rockabilly to talkin' blues, but the musical expertise of his band was never fully realized on record. Echoes of Memphis soul carry a tune about murder and regret. The eastern swagger on "Sadr City" provides a vehicle for an interesting war story. On "Sunbeam," Lund slows things down and pays tribute to a relative lost too young with a sweet acoustic song.
There are a plethora of guests, which shows that he has been making some headway south of the border. The ragged edge of 1970s country reigns as Texas artist Jason Eady joins the band on the "Alice Eyes," while Reckless Kelly's Willy Braun adds depth to "Goodbye Colorado." Turnpike Troubadours' Evan Felker helps out on the cautionary tale "Washed-Up Rock Star Factory Blues," which details the difficulty of giving up on your dreams. In the song, a bully of a boss taunts the former musician, chiding "You're an artist man, and there ain't no bout about it/ So when you paint the fence be kinda sensitive about it." Elsewhere, cosmic cowboy Leroy Powel (Shooter Jennings) provides backup vocals alongside Kristen Rogers (A Thousand Horses back-up singer). Even Cobb adds acoustic guitar and percussion.
Lund has long had one of the strongest backing bands in country. Kurt Ciesla's jazz training has helped expand his musical skills on stand-up bass well beyond the capabilities of most country bass players. The comfort level of Brady Valgardson on drums and the wide ranging ability of Grant Siemens on guitar and lap steel round out The Hurtin' Albertans, who finally have found their sound fully realized on recording. More than two decades into his recording career Corb Lund has released what should recognized as his definitive album.