Okay, that is mildly unfair. It is not Corb Lund per se that gives me a chill. It is all of country music. You could say that I already had a bias and pre-conceived notion about country music before writing this post. I find it to be all the same. Its culture is very macho and its fan base very homogenous – that is, very, very white. The musicians too. With the exception of Cowboy Troy, almost every country singer on the planet is white. And, for the most part, a southerner. That in of itself is not a problem. For me it is that the songs and songwriting do not have a lot of substance. They aren’t about anything in particular. (Except maybe cars, chicks and beer). Perhaps I don’t like country music because of my notion that most of its artists (in the states anyways) are republicans which, let’s face, is hard to be in the U.S. I did listen to some country in my youth – but they were all considered crossover artists – Martina McBride, Billy Gilman, and post-9/11 Dixie Chicks. Perhaps I am merely not educated or well-versed enough in this particular music genre. Hence why I chose to interview Corb Lund. But he’s not necessarily the typical country star.
Before starting Corb Lund and the Hurtin’ Albertans, Lund was a member of the Smalls. What makes this interesting is the The Smalls were a hard-rock/speed-metal band. So right of the bat, I have to give some respect to Lund. Going from one end of the musical to the other. That clearly shows versatility. Two very different styles, two very different set of skills. Since ending that venture, Lund has gone more traditional with his country music. He is a farm boy from rural Alberta and so country definitely suits him. The problem is, for me anyway, is that it’s nothing new or original. It’s just the same ol’ thing. Another thing, why does Lund insist on singing with a slight southern drawl? He is from Canada, yet he sounds like he could be from Texas or South Carolina. At least there are some songs of his – which are on his latest album Cabin Fever – that are a little softer and less twangy/hick/redneck sounding.
This is not a knock on Lund. It is clear that he is a talented man – the aforementioned Speed Metal serves up that point. I feel that his talent could be better utilized. His writing is decent, but if he were fronting a rock band he could really shine. But perhaps that is just not his style. After all, I don’t blame him for wanting to tone it down after playing in a speed metal band for ten years. That must’ve been exhausting. Plus, there aren’t a lot of Canadian country singers (name someone other than Jaydee Bixby), so I applaud him for trying to break new ground.
Once again this could be my country music ignorance talking, but I find that the music is overly simple. The songs are made for simple folk, and while I know some urbanites who are fans of the genre, it has its greatest support in rural areas. Even Lund stated he noticed a different vibe when playing city shows as supposed out in the ‘burbs. I also feel – at least from how the way they are portrayed – that many country music are less educated than the rest of the population – both in the traditional and musical sense of the word. Now there is nothing with that and we shouldn’t stigmatize them for it. It is perfectly reasonable to want to divorce yourself from the world around you. I just feel that country music has grown or developed itself over the last thirty or so years.
Now, full disclosure: I have been to only one country music show in my life – Aaron Pritchett, as part of Mission’s Rockin’ River Fest – and I didn’t even pay to see it. I don’t even remember who was on after him. In childhood, the closest thing I came to true country was the Rankin Family – who are Celtic, with a splash of country and folk thrown in. But even that wasn’t country. Plus, my devotion to Celtic music would outweigh almost anything. So while I will do my best to awaken myself to its culture, for now, I still don’t like country music.