Album Review – Corb Lund “Cabin Fever”

August 19, 2012 - By Trigger  //  Reviews  //  37 Comments

50% of Americans may not be able to correctly identify that Saskatchewan is a part of Canada, or even have the presence of mind to comprehend that Canadians are technically Americans as well, but if one of your friends has been exposed to Canadian country singer Corb Lunds music and scoffs it off as something too foreign for their ears, you may want to seriously consider a renouncement of said friend’s country music citizenship.

The United States is not the only land with lonesome cowboys and wide open spaces. Corb Lund grew up on his family’s farm and ranch in Alberta (the Canadian province, not your smelly aunt with 6 cats), and his rural cowboy life and thirst for country comes through in his music. There’s no corny hoser-ism here, Corb Lund is rich with ribald and wit, with forays into rock & roll and wild diversions of the mind from a man struggling to relate to modern society. He’s crazy in a way that doesn’t come across as weird, but endearing, and almost warm and soothing in the way he articulates madness as a mechanism to cope.

His newest album Cabin Fever starts off with one of these songs, “Getting Down On The Mountain”. This “Country Boy Can Survive” – type number has been done before, but never Corb Lund style, and as long as the only hope some disenfranchised souls can find in the direction of the world is in a prayer for the utter destruction of it, it will always be relevant. It starts off with a catchy beat, almost like many modern pop country songs, but this one has Corb’s cool factor conveyed through his relentlessly entertaining songwriting and sense of groove.

Unlike a lot of artists who are regarded as “songwriters” Corb isn’t afraid to use words for rhythm, and isn’t too pretentious to let you disengage from the “art” and enter the primal world where you should feel instead of listen. “Dig Gravedigger Dig” and the Beach Boys-esque “Mein Deutsches Motorrad” get hands clapping, boots stomping, and the frau’s shaking booty. Corb has the Brian Wilson vibe on “Mein Deutsches Motorrad” down pat, even to the lead guitar. If Cabin Fever was lacking in one area, you may point to the lead parts and instrumentation: not bad, just not really present as some in-your-face element to the album. But Cabin Fever is so entertaining without some superpicker dynamic superimposed on top, adding that may drown out the more important elements: the words, the emotion, and the groove.

And just as some songs are there to make you move, some are there to just make you laugh, like the sardonic but still somewhat social commentary-laced “Cows Around” or the observant “Gothiest Girl I Can”:

Gonna get the Gothiest girl I can, with the pale white Rockabilly tan. You know the kind, the ones you find in a country metal punk rock band. Well she might be into hot rod cars, or leather fetish bondage bars. She’s dirty, pretty, the hippest in the city she’s the Gothiest girl I can.

Some really great Western/Cowboy storytelling songs made the cut for Cabin Fever in the form of the dark-humored “Pour ‘Em Kinda Strong” about a wanted man’s last sips, and the even darker-humored “Priceless Antique Pistol Shoots Startled Owner”. Cowboy themes mixed with love is the brew for songs like “(You Ain’t Been A Cowboy) If You Ain’t Been Bucked Off” and “One Left In The Chamber”.

About the only track that has “straightforward” as an attribute is Cabin Fever‘s first single “September”. As much as I like this song and it adds some deeper substance to the album, I also am worried it misrepresents Cabin Fever and Corb. The only song I didn’t care for was “Bible on the Dash”. I swear, before I looked at the liner notes, when this song came up I wondered why Corb was trying to do a bad Hayes Carll impression. No offense to Carll, but his drunken, swervey sarcasm seemed a little out-of-place in this duet, and honestly, outmatched by Corb’s similarly irreverent, but more elevated use of wit.

Whether you’re a long-time Corb Lund fan, just hearing about him right here, or just feel like helping support the Canadian economy, Cabin Fever is a great album of country music, one of the best of 2012 so far.

Two guns way up!

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Purchase Cabin Fever from Corb Lund

Preview & Purchase Tracks on Amazon

37 Comments to “Album Review – Corb Lund “Cabin Fever””

  • This is definitely the best thing you have ever turned me on to.

  • I own Losing Lately Gambler, and it gets a LOT of play around here (he is entirely responsible for my six-year-old wandering the house singing “Rye Whiskey”). I will definitely be buying this as soon as I can get out to Lone Star Music. If this album is half as good as that one, it will be money well spent.

    • Ha! My 7 year old does the America thing! While riding his pony no less!

      • That was supposed to be “same” thing. I don’t know how auto correct came up with that one! Btw. Saw Corb in Montreal last night. What a show!

  • Corb is awesome. A true cowboy and an amazing artist. Just a correctionugh……Canada has provinces and not states!

    • Sorry about all the spelling errors. Stupid mobile touch phones!

  • I don’t know about this one,

    While I have (probably overly) enjoyed his albums in the past: Horse Soldier! and Losin’ Lately Gambler are both great, are listened to regularly. I just can’t seem to get my head into this one.

    On first listen it’s all there, but then the bottom falls out and it just starts to feel like something is missing. By the third go around it all went to pieces like all those 1’s and 0’s started drinking and line dancing and were having so much fun they all forgot where they belonged and ended up in some weird Canadian country digital void.

    I guess it is possible it could grow on me, but after a week of living with it, I think it’s time we see other people.

  • Nice review. Just ordered this and its predecessor Losin’ Lately Gambler yesterday based on the strength of the couple of songs I’ve heard from Cabin Fever. Figured I was overdue for some Corb.

    One small correction. Alberta is technically a province, not a state.

    • If you like what you hear, make sure you check out some of his earlier work as well… Horse Soldier! Horse Soldier! and “Hair in My Eyes Like a Highland Steer” are both absolutely fantastic.

  • Hey, so just so I’m clear here, is Alberta a state or a province? ;)

  • That motorcyle song is pure Junior Brown.

    • I’m hearing “Shut Down” by The Beach Boys, especially in the guitar solo.

      Junior Brown is great at re-creating sounds and styles, but he borrows a lot from the folks that originated them. So does Corb to some extent.

  • Hey Trig, I emailed you way back about reviewing some Corb Lund and I’m glad you reviewed this album. I had a chance to BS and drink a beer with him at the Grizzly Rose in Denver last year. He was genuinely friendly and down to earth. I’m still going through this album, but It’s got a lot of promise so far. Hopefully people read your review and find their way back to his prior work. His older music to me has always had a lot of depth, honesty and quite a bit of humor.

    I got introduced to him a few years ago when he toured with Stoney, and he stole the show hands down.

    • When I was listening to this album, I had a sense that the hardest sale would be to his established fans. When an artist has been around for as long as he has, folks are going to glam on to favorite albums and invariable compare anything new to those high standards. I haven’t heard all of Corb’s albums so I can’t compare, but I know comparing “Cabin Fever” to the rest of the albums put out in 2012 so far, it is near the top of the heap.

      • As a long-time Canadian reader of this blog (never commented before now), I’d like to say I’m incredibly excited to see you reviewing Corb Lund. As a long-time fan of everything in Corb’s discography, I really think he out-did himself with this one; it’s hard to pick a favourite Corb album or a favourite album of 2012, but Cabin Fever’s in serious contention for both. I don’t speak for all his fans, but if he continues making music for decades (which I very much hope he does), I can see this one going down as one of the very best.

        • As another Canuck and longtime fan, I’d agree it’s a great album.

          Cabin Fever’s a bit of a departure from Losin’ Lately Gambler sound-wise – the band seems subdued compared to that one and Horse Soldier! Horse Soldier! (maybe due to a change of producer or his being holed up in that cabin up by Tiger Lily for weeks on end, apparently).

          However, he’s as sharp a songwriter as ever and that still shines through.

          • When I first started listening to Corb Lund, I was suprised to hear such great country music coming from up north. Any other artists up there that are worth checking out?

          • Tim Hus, definitely. Ian Tyson can be really good as well, though I find him a little too folk for my taste, at times

          • The Sadies!

            Maybe I should do a Canadian country article sometimes. There’s also some great Australian country artists, sans Keith Urban.

          • If you’re interested in Canadian country, check out Ian Tyson’s Cowboyography album, and anything by Fred Eaglesmith. The Divorcees are good, too.

          • A few other great country acts from Canada are Andrew Neville and the poor choices, Scott Nolan,Elliot Brood, The Schomberg Fair, One Hundred Dollers, Cheering for the bad guy, Adrian Sala,Tim Hus, The Crooked Brothers, The D Rangers, Nathan(some bands border folk and gospel but its all great). Cheers from the frigid north.

      • Saw him last night at an almost private show small venue in Denver and I’m even more impressed with the new album. He’s just an intelligent songwriter and equally as impressive performer

        • and FWIW I re bought all his albums last night so I could listen to them lossless formatted

  • good stuff. the german motorcycle tune being my fave. a nice hard driving road tune.
    yes, i tend to agree reminiscent of ‘shut down’. not a bad thing.

  • I love me some Corb Lund.. Great record!

  • Great to hear Corb Lund has a new album out. My favorite so far was probably Hair in my Eyes. I’ve heard the duet from this new album on the Radio. Sounds like part of that song was inspired by Townes van Zandt’s story about driving to Dallas the night before he wrote Poncho and lefty, where his long-haired buddy got out of trouble with a cop the same way.

  • I hear Eddie Cochran’s “Summertime Blues” in that motorcycle song…

    Triggerman, did Hayes Carll steal your parking spot at the grocery store?

    • Yep, definitely “Summertime Blues.” Much less annoying than that song, in my opinion.

  • Lots of Jerry Reed going on in Bible on the Dash. I’d listened to Corb’s music before and it just never really drew me in. I really like this album though.

  • Corb has been playing around for about 10 years or more now. His early “Five Dollar Bill” album drew critical appraise from all quarters and he was somewhat grudgingly accepted among the more NewNashville types on CanConCountry. Has a good band backing him in the form of The Hurtin’ Albertans when touring. Trig? Alberta is a province but often likens itself to be a state…. That’s another issue on another forum…
    As far as Aussie bands go, there is some really good stuff there. Check out some of the pioneers in Aussie C&W such as Slim Dusty and Smokey Dawson. Some Fair Dinkum there, Mate !

  • Would love to see him live in concert!

    • You should – he’s great and you won’t be disappointed.

  • stoked to the see the Corb Lund love… ordered as soon as I heard it was out, Corb has firmly established himself as an artist that will put out quality material every time and I have all of his previous releases on regular rotation and have no doubt that “cabin fever” will fit right in….

  • The reality is that I’m a dyed in the wool Metallica/Dream Theater/Led Zeppelin type of guy (and, yes, I really am an ordained Lutheran Pastor). I also love the blues. But I don’t care for country music. In fact, I recently informed one of my parishioners that I would almost chew my own arm off rather than listen to country western music. So I find myself astonished that I have been captivated by this album. Lyrically, this man is a master (and I absolutely *love* “Bible on the Dash”), and the jazz and blues influences in his music are pretty strongly evident. I plan on looking for more of his earlier stuff – wonderful, just wonderful.

  • I didn’t really know Corb Lund, but I got triggered to read the review and give this album a listen on Spotify, by the opener that techically Canadians are Americans as well. Techically that is correct, but I have met quite a few Canadians who made perfectly clear they were from Canada, not the USA. I once read that Jason Ringenberg said he was Canadian, when the USA under George W. Bush started the war in Iraq, and many in Europe weren’t too friendly towards you. Jason didn’t want to be blamed for what his country was doing.
    But, Canadian or American, this is very good country-music, and way back when I had my radio-show I would have played it. For sure. And I have a lot of cds that I bought for that radio-purpose. We’re talking about the nineties here, but sometimes I feel like going through that part of the collection, and when I listen to those cds now, I hear the songs that made me buy it, and at the same time I know why I stopped listening at some point. Cabin Fever is one of those cds.
    So instead of supporting Canada on this one (got most of The Sadies’ cds, lot of Fred Eaglesmith, who was born in Holland which helped his carreer over here, and the blues-loving part of me always fell for Sue Foley, the blues-singer/guitarplayer who is the girl that hepcats call Sue on Wayne Hancock’s Thunderstorms and Neonsigns), I’ll go for Australia. I am really looking forward to the new cd by Kasey Chambers and Shane Nicholson: “Wreck and Ruin”. I think it’s out somewhere in september.

  • Corb is great and has put out another album. However, the writer of the article states that “Canadians are technically Americans.” Technically??????????? Dude WTF are you talking about. We are not technically Americans and this is not a knock against Americans. It just that we are citizens of Canada which means we are ‘technically’ Canadian.

    • Canada is part of the North American continent, so technically Canadians are Americans. The reason I said it like that was to make fun of the ignorance many people from the United States have of Canada.

Leave a comment

Del Maguey
Old Soul Radio Show
Hillgrass Bluebilly
Best Of Lists