It’s hard to imagine a more unlikely unifier than Taber’s Corb Lund. Years ago, when he released Horse Soldier, Horse Soldier I put a promo Corb patch on my bag, and since that day the people that struck up a conversation are as diverse and random as you’d imagine for an artist that can sell out the Rexall Centre or slide into a dirty bar without switching gears.
The reason is simple; Lund plays for the punks, the ‘pokes and the plebes, but still hits home with the urban dweller. Corb writes with a quick wit and a his tongue planted firmly in his cheek, but with the chops to pull it all off flawlessly. He writes songs for the everyman, using stereotypical cowboy imagery, but always manages to hide practical philosophy and his view of society in seemingly lighthearted tales. The self loathing that would make most stand up comedians blush, is just another reason it’s impossible to not fall for Corb’s songs.
Corb’s latest LP (and as it sits on top of the charts here in Canada, his most successful LP) is the culmination of his storied catalog. Cabin Fever is dark, with Corb writing about the apocalypse, suicide and drinking until the pain is numbed into submission, but the live feel of the songs highlight just how strong a song writer Lund truly is. He and the band smoke when asked (“Mein Deutsches Motorrad”, “Gettin’ Down on the Mountain”) but are just as comfortable when the pace slows. The sadness that drips off the bended notes of drinking anthems and suicide ballads might not get your toes tapping, but they force the deep connections that make songs last long past the typical press cycle of modern music.
Admittedly, there are moments that hint at hokeyness that would fall flat if delivered by a lesser artist, but that’s part of Corb’s immense charm. When at his best – like he is on the hilarious (and frighteningly possible) “Bible on the Dash” and the touching “September” – Lund offers instant classics, but even when he sings with a smile, the songs stick to your ribs.
I’m not sure anyone would have picked a paranoid, sad sack, punk rawking, urban cowboy as the voice of our country, but that’s exactly why Cabin Fever Usain Bolt-ed ahead of Bieber and One Direction on the charts. It’s built on tradition, both in sound and subject matter, that Canadian music lovers pine for, but refuses to rest on tired riffs and constantly views society with a current and unique perspective. Let the wild rumpus start, indeed.