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Corb Lund

Cover Your Tracks – 2019 (New West)

Reviewed by Brian Baker

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CDs by Corb Lund

Canadian singer/songwriter Corb Lund is a decade and a half into a fairly successful career with nine studio albums to his credit and a razor sharp touring band, the Hurtin' Albertans, backing him on the road that never ends.

Lund's albums have typically been musical quilts of his myriad influences, including country, folk, indie and roots rock, honky tonk, bluegrass and Western, the specific cowboy genre that evolved on the left side of North America, all of which he channels through his unique songwriting and performing prism. As a result, Lund has earned several trophy cases worth of accolades from both sides of Canada's southern border.

For his 10th release, "Cover Your Tracks," Lund has chosen a handful of songs that represent those disparate yet connected influences, which he has adapted to his personal musical style. The artwork is a clever reference to the title's concept; a hand drawn tracker's guide featuring the footprints of a couple dozen mammals and birds. The tracks of Lund's influences are equally clear, starting with his powerful reading of Lee Hazelwood's "These Boots Are Made For Walkin'," popularized by Nancy Sinatra's pop version in the '60s, but transformed by Lund into a surf/roots rock anthem.

That trend continues on Lund's honky tonk spin on Dr. Hook's "The Cover of the Rolling Stone," featuring a duet vocal with the always engaging Hayes Carll, and his straightforward covers of Marty Robbins' "They're Hanging Me Tonight" and the Eagles' "Outlaw Man." Lund hits to the left field fence with a bluesy romp through AC/DC's "Ride On" and a fairly faithful, but twangy reverbed take on Billy Joel's "It's Still Rock and Roll To Me," but returns to tradition with the Willie Nelson/Ray Price classic "Seven Spanish Angels" and Bob Dylan's epic "I Shall Be Released."

And...that's it. If there's a ding on this presumably stopgap release - it's been four year since Lund's last album, 2015's "Things That Can't Be Undone" - it's that "Cover Your Tracks" isn't long enough. At 28 minutes, it's either a short album or a long EP; in the '60s, it would have been a standard 14-minute per side album, but this is now, and vinyl constraints no longer exist. More to the point, Lund has to have considerably more influences than the eight that are showcased on "Cover Your Tracks," and it would have been great to hear at least another four or five of them here. As it is, "Cover Your Tracks" is a fun, if all too brief, peek into Lund's record collection. Play it twice.