Corb Lund Takes a Gamble With Own Brand of ‘Scruffy Country’
Corb Lund has a way with words. Take some of the self-penned descriptions of his music on his MySpace page -- "scruffy country, dissident country, organic country, free range country, western music with some hair on it." Apparently Corb wants fans to know that he's not your average, run-of-the-mill country singer/songwriter.
The tracks on the his new album, 'Losin' Lately Gambler,' make the same point. Even though this is his first project aimed specifically at the U.S. marketplace, Corb doesn't stray far from his stories about his rural upbringing in southern Alberta, Canada, and the long line of ranchers that came before him in his family.
"I didn't change anything about the way I approached making this album," Corb says of the the project, which was produced by Harry Stinson from Marty Stuart's Fabulous Superlatives. "It's funny, but there are two songs about Canada on here, but it wasn't on purpose. We'll see how they go. I've found if you write interesting things, people will pick up on it even if they don't know about it. It's important to write about your own background and your part of the world."
Corb pays tribute to two major influences in his life, his dad and Marty Robbins, on the disc. In 'Talkin' Veterinarian Blues,' the singer takes true stories from his father's years as a vet on Canadian ranches and weaves them into a wild tale about replacing a bird for an elderly client and charging a client after an unsuccessful attempt to rescue a cow.
The Spanish guitar on 'Devil's Best Dressed' is a direct throwback to Robbins, whose 'Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs' had a big influence on Corb. He also draws inspiration from Johnny Horton's legacy of historical songs, like 'The Battle of New Orleans,' along with other legendar writers like Kris Kristofferson, Ian Tyson and Ramblin' Jack Elliot. In reality, though, Cord didn't have to look further than his family when it came to a influences.
"My grandpas used to sing all these old Western cowboy ballads. Those songs come from before recorded music -- they're traditional numbers that the cowboys always sing in camp, or just for fun, to entertain themselves. My grandpas knew all those songs," Corb says. "The first song I ever knew was called 'The Strawberry Roan,' a cowboy song that's at least 150 years old."
The singer's wide approach to music have taken him to venues around the world, from the main stage at Glastonbury in the UK and Virginfest in Canada to Doug Moreland's Cattleac Calf Fry in Manchester, Texas. He continues to reside in Edmonton, where his family has worked the land for 120 years, but admits that he is on the road a lot more than he's home these days.
The album's first single, 'A Game In Town Like This,' is about losing at cards but, according to Corb, "it's also a metaphor for losing at deeper things." He explores the game of cards on the title track, as well, an autobiographical song about "a fantastic 5/5 pot limit Omaha game not far from here. I perfectly capture the mood I was going for on that one, about a card game that I played in for years in my hometown," Corb says. "Yep, it's pretty true to life for me."
Corb brings a unique voice and unique perspective to his music that is a little country, a little western and a lot of fun. "It's an old fashioned boom-chicka-boom country," he says of the new project. After a pause, he comes up with one more description to add to his MySpace page. "It's the kind of country music your dad would listen to."
'Losin' Lately Gambler' will be in stores Tuesday (Sept. 29).