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The Corb Lund Band | Five Dollar Bill (Loose)
Around 18 months ago, I happened upon an album called 'Unforgiving Mistress', by The Corb Lund Band. Before long, it became something of an obsession. It was rare that a day went by without my playing at least one track to sate my hunger for this uplifting, very slightly unhinged 'indie' country sound. It later appeared that I wasn't alone in my admiration. One Howe Gelb was also frothing about them to anyone who would listen, just as he did in the cases of Rainer, Grandaddy and M.Ward. It cannot be questioned that the man has spectacular taste. Through his ties with the good folks at Loose, the friendly sandman gave Lund a leg up, a deal was struck, and here we have the debut British release from one of the finest and most authentic country acts to come out of Canada ?? or anywhere else for that matter ?? in many a big orange sunset over silhouetted mountains. Lund is quite some character, and it is his life that genuinely fuels his work, which bears not a trace of irony or pretence, but bursts with historical reference, wit and poignancy. The sleeve of 'Five Dollar Bill' shows an 11-year old Corb grimacing in terror and exhilaration ?? as he rides a bull at a rodeo. In the background, be-stetsoned cowboys look on in admiration, and it's likely that there are family members amongst them. Corb Lund, you see, comes from four generations of cowpokes, ranchers, wranglers and farmers. His grandparents toured Europe in western shows in the '20s and '30s, his mother was Calgary Stampede champion barrel racer, and the teenage Lund was himself a champion rodeo rider. Alan Tyler astutely observes the current country boom in fashion (such as Madonna in Stetson and chaps) and musical influence (like Travis' and Ed Harcourt's use of banjos) in Everybody Is A Cowboy Now (the opener on debut solo effort 'Faithful'), stating in all but straight language that the average alt./country performer wouldn't know a horse from a horse fly. Corb Lund does ?? he knows horses better than other horses, and cowboys better than other cows and boys. With skiffle and rockabilly grooves, and even flashes of east European gypsy jazz influence, Lund plays a country that is as 'alt.' as it is 'trad', but most importantly, he writes incredible pure pop to boot. With twang, slap and skitter, Lund and a scarily accomplished gang of cohorts (including, extraordinarily, Nickelback's Ryan Vikedal), serve up a stunning platter of 13 thigh-slappers and weepies on 'Five Dollar Bill', surely a contender for country album of the year - alt. or otherwise. Thematically, we are talking moonshine running, the great Canadian prairies, oil riggers, whiskey by the vat, gambling, dust and muck and, quelle surprise, horses. This is the way of the walk for Lund and his ancestors, and this wonderful record is as valid a soundtrack to the romance, toil and adventure of the old west as you will ever hear. And that's no horseshit.

Tom Sheriff
CWAS #11 - Autumn 2002

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