Colter Wall – ‘Colter Wall’ album review

This is an easy record to write about. A real simple piece of beauty. It doesn’t break any conventions. It doesn’t tear up any rulebooks. It doesn’t fly in the face of any traditions. What it does do is take classic forms, conventions, rulebooks, traditions and make them relevant and fresh into twenty seventeen like it was nothing, which it isn’t, it’s a lot, a big deal.

Records this simple, this reliable, this rare, they don’t come along every day. If you enjoy the work of Townes Van Zandt, Lee Hazlewood, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, any of the great whisky sour voiced criminal cowboy singers of the past, then you should consider adding Wall’s beautifully understated, self-titled debut album to your collection. If you want something groundbreaking, showstopping, you should probably keep walking, but you’ll be missing a masterpiece when all you need to do is slow down, and listen, carefully:

Colter plays a beautiful, rough-edged fingerstyle on his shade top mahogany Martin double oh, teasing cute little country licks from the same old chords and the magical distances between them. There’s a few other touches here and there, a little bar-room piano, a little lead guitar, a few simple drums & bass.

Nothing distracting, though – Dave Cobb, superhuman producer to the superhuman musicians of modern country, aims the focus square at Colter’s voice, telling you it was a cold and cruel evening sneaking up on speedy creek, and he found himself sleeping in the snow. So many songs start that way, some go nowhere, not on this record. Colter always has a point, a tale he wants to tell you and Cobb knows how to operate the dials on that genre to make it sound just like you want it to. Well, it sounds like I want it to anyway.

 

I see lots of reasons to be excited about a young guy from Saskatchewan making records like this. He had Dave Cobb in a room, he could have done anything he wanted, but he made this precious thing. He can’t be a day over twenty, he’s probably never been alive when there weren’t spotify accounts yet he exercises the wit, judgement, taste and style to do this and I think that’s a beautiful thing. Thanks for making this, man. I look forward to hearing whatever you do next, but this’ll keep me going for the rest of this year, at least.

When he sings “I don’t dream of you anymore” at the end of ‘Codeine Dream’ you have to feel for this guy, he knows how it feels and he can sing it, make you really feel it. ‘Kate McCannon’ is as sad a song as you’ll hear. I can’t stop playing that one. A rare and wonderful gift he has.

You can buy the record from his website, or probably from one of his shows. It sounds lovely on vinyl and you get a sort of appropriately low budget lyric sheet insert. He’s in Europe soon and I hope to catch him at The Lexington in London, I reckon it’d be exciting to hear him do these beautiful tunes live. I’d love to see him tour with Zachary Lucky, that’d be a show, right there. I’ll write about it for you if I make it to a gig.

 

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