A born troubadour, Corb Lund tells stories effortlessly. Sitting in a Colorado roadside diner before boarding the tour van, he’s optimistic about making authentic art in what feels like an inauthentic Internet era. It’s the same calm assuredness you encounter in his songs.
Back in his native Canada, the Juno award winning singer/songwriter has already made his name with awards and a few gold records. But there’s still a little place called the United States that needs to be won over by the ex-punk rocker and son of a cattle veterinarian.
Lund was raised in southern Alberta to a family of ranchers, creating a wealth of stories to later draw upon. His tales have an intriguing cast of characters, including his dad.
“He’s a Renaissance cowboy,” Lund says. “He raised cattle, worked as a vet, and now he’s a Western artist, a painter. A lot of the Western folklore in my songs comes from my family, both sides of which have been cowboys for the last 160 years. I’ve got a real rogues’ gallery to draw upon for my songs.”
You can hear all about that gallery in songs such as “A Game in Town Like This,” an upbeat truckin’ tune with a melancholy core from Lund’s latest and sixth kickass album, Losin’ Lately Gambler (the first to be released Stateside). There’s the gorgeous protest ballad “This Is My Prairie,” which captures today’s tension between Alberta ranchers and the oil industry. “My family has a ranch we’ve had for 100 years, although our personal family story isn’t as extreme as the one in the song,” Lund says.
But the standout tracks are those that tackle the creature discomforts of cowboy life, such as the swinging, banjo-powered “Horse Doctor, Come Quick,” in which a horse trainer pleads for the vet to bring “the tranq, and the crank and the penicillin.” Or the “Talkin’ Veterinarian Blues,” where the rhythmic narrative is guaranteed for a laugh. Or the stand-up bass rockabilly of “Steer Rider’s Blues,” about being good at something girls don’t appreciate. The details feel spot-on.
“I’m convinced that, if you write something authentic, people will pick up on the genuineness,” Lund says. “I’ve had enough love songs. … I’m more interested in writing about the advice grandpa gives you.”