Published Jun 23, 2020Fans of Corb Lund's 2005 breakthrough hit "Truck Got Stuck" had better buckle up. Better yet, slip on your best pair of cowboy boots for the hoedown worthy "Dance with Your Spurs On." Or lace up your running shoes for "Grizzly Bear Blues," a gleeful anthem about outpacing Mother Nature's burliest predator (and featuring one of the best drum breakdowns you'll hear all year). With these two tracks, and a slew of others on his tenth album, Agricultural Tragic, Canada's finest outlaw songsmith returns to the clever humour that made him a star.
That's not to say his far more somber preceding album, 2015's Things That Can't Be Undone, wasn't masterful. It featured vivid guitar work, pristine production from producer de jour Dave Cobb (Sturgill Simpson, Chris Stapleton, Jason Isbell) and cathartic lyricism from Lund (fresh off grieving his grandmother, father and — most tragically of all — his niece ).
However, it'll be heartening for the Hurtin' Albertan's fans to hear his cheekier disposition this go around. Better still: Lund balances the hard-won wisdom of tougher times with playful optimism on "Raining Horses." That song was originally penned to be upbeat and silly (overly so, according to Lund), prompting him to slow the tempo enough to give it melancholy depth. More straightforwardly playful tracks like "Ranchin', Ridin', Romance (Two Outta Three Ain't Bad)" and the jokey spoken word rife "Tattoos Blues" will make you toe-tap and giggle in equal measure.
Yes, despite its name, Agricultural Tragic is also deeply comedic. That, along with its irresistibly catchy alt-country rhythms, make it one of 2020's most well rounded and re-playable releases. (New West)