Canadian singer-songwriter Corb Lund made his debut in 1995 with Modern Pain. Since then he’s gone on to release another 8 albums with his 2012 release Cabin Fever topping the charts in Canada. A regular on the live scene, Lund’s last album arrived in 2015, Things That Can’t Be Undone, and unusually for him there’s been a fairly lengthy gap between that release and a new album. Thanks to the pandemic that wait got a little bit longer as Lund’s new record Agricultural Tragic was pushed back from April to June.
Now it’s finally here, fans can wrap their ears around 12 new tracks, all tied together with the agricultural themes that have been present in Lund’s music since the start of his career. He explained to me recently that he’s coined the term ‘Agricultural Tragic’ as it best describes the kind of music he makes. The album opens with quite the story on the amusing 90 Seconds of Your Time. The song was inspired by a hunt that Lund went on with Evan Felker from Turnpike Troubadours, where their animals were let loose and the ranger leading them had murderous thoughts towards the culprits.
The energy that rings through that track is present across much of the record as Lund shares confessional tales from his life. The mid-tempo stomp of Old Men pushes back against society’s tendency to eradicate the older generation, stating that there are simply some things that young men can’t do. He does however concede that there are times young men would come in useful such as having his back in a bar fight. One of the first highlights comes on the duet I Think You Oughta Try Whiskey with Jaida Dreyer. Bringing to mind the classic Johnny Cash and June Carter recordings, the two artists play off one another over a plucky traditional Country beat.
Oklahomans! leans into rockier sounds with a superb lead guitar riff in the middle, Dance With Your Spurs On is a glorious slice of traditional Country, and the punchy Grizzly Bear Blues rips along at quite a pace during the verse before switching things up on the chorus. Another highlight comes on the stunning Never Not Had Horses, a song inspired by the moment Lund’s mother had to have her final two horses put down and realised it was the first time in her life she’d never had any horses.
As the album reaches its final two tracks, it doesn’t lose any energy. The uptempo Rat Patrol has a sing-a-long feel and is going to be a huge hit on the dancefloor, when we’re allowed out again of course, while the closing track Tattoos Blues rips up all the rule books and combines spoken word poetry with a traditional Country chorus. At first Tattoos Blues will make you go ‘what the…?’ but it’ll grow on you and it’s an example of why Lund is so highly regarded for his creativity and musicianship.
Agricultural Tragic is the kind of album we need right now. It’s uptempo, it’s feel-good but it’s packed with intricately woven stories. Corb Lund is an artist that deserves all the acclaim he gets and by rights he should be a bigger star in the genre. Agricultural Tragic is definitely one for those who like their Country more traditional, and who want to boogie their way through the pandemic.
Track list: 1. 90 Seconds of Your Time 2. Old Men 3. I Think You Oughta Try Whiskey (feat. Jaida Dreyer) 4. Raining Horses 5. Oklahomans! 6. Grizzly Bear Blues 7. Dance With Your Spurs On 8. Louisa L’Amour 9. Never Not Had Horses 10. Ranchin’, Ridin’, Romance (Two Outta Three Ain’t Bad) 11. Rat Patrol 12. Tattoos Blues Record label: New West Records Release date: 26th June 2020 Buy Agricultural Tragic