Corb Lund - El Viejo
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El Viejo (New West, 2024)

Corb Lund

Reviewed by Donald Teplyske

Award-winning Canadian rootsicana artist Corb Lund returns with his 11th album of original material, following the success of his 2022 covers album, "Songs My Friends Wrote." "El Viejo" has an intimate, 'living room' feel and for good reason: an acoustic album recorded in Lund's Lethbridge, Alberta home, it finds Lund and his Hurtin' Albertans in excellent form.

As with each Lund album, it is a challenge to identify where reality and fiction intersect. Several songs are obviously based on autobiographical experience. "Old Familiar Drunken Feeling" is based on an ill-considered encounter with legal edibles prior to a show, while "I Had It All," "The Cardplayers" and "When the Game Gets Hot" (featuring a deep bass kick-off from Sean Burns, a notable Canadian country performer in his own right and now a Hurtin' Albertan) drawing on Lund's well-known proclivity for poker.

However, and as typical for Lund, he takes us to a place of universality beyond gambling with these songs. While musically jaunty, "Redneck Rehab," co-written with Jaida Dreyer, is dark and desperate, based on her own experiences with addiction recovery.

The title track is as appropriate and heartfelt elegy for Lund's mentor and friend Ian Tyson as we are likely to encounter, each lyrical reference astute remembrance of the folk, country and western music icon.

The album's catchiest song may be "Was Fort Worth Worth It?" (also co-written with Dreyer) with "It Takes Practice" being equally appealing. We all want to go "Out On A Win," and here Lund reflects on an aging MMA fighter just hanging on, while the First World War tale "Insha-Allah" takes us to the other side of the world.

Grant Siemens plays a variety of guitars as well as banjo and mandolin with Lyle Molzan drumming. Burns also provides harmonica and background vocals with Lund handling additional guitar.

Lund is able to move easily between the country, folk and cowboy worlds, largely because he is as genuine a performer as one is likely to encounter: he is the guy sporting a guitar and hat on stage. There is no affectation in his music or performance, and that authenticity is as much a hallmark of his albums as are his songs.

CDs by Corb Lund

El Viejo, 2024 Agricultural Tragic, 2020 Cover Your Tracks, 2019 Things That Can't Be Undone, 2015 Counterfeit Blues, 2014 Cabin Fever, 2012 Losin' Lately Gambler, 2009 Horse Soldier! Horse Soldier!, 2007 Hair in My Eyes Like a Highland Steer, 2006

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