The end of a 13-year relationship, the death of a close uncle, and a lengthy battle with writer’s block might sound like the perfect recipe for an album to one-up Adele’s melancholic 21. But for Albertan guitar-slinger Corb Lund, that gloomy past translated into a good-humoured batch of unabashedly honky-tonk songs about German motorcycles, goth-girl fetishes, and, yep, cows.
Then again, the Juno Award-winning country artist has never taken himself too seriously, and on Cabin Fever, his seventh studio album, he stays true to form: Apocalyptic opener “Gettin’ Down on the Mountain” tells the exaggerated tale of a cowboy survivalist, “Bible on the Dash” could be an ironic rebuttal to Carrie Underwood’s “Jesus, Take the Wheel,” and album standout “Cows Around” is an ode to rural life (complete with a recited inventory of cow breeds).
Lund’s lyrics are consistently entertaining and comical throughout Cabin Fever’s chronicles of drinking, heartbreak, and suicide, and his remarkable storytelling carries the album even when the actual music (jazzy, hook-laden guitar licks and walking bass lines atop 12- and 16-bar blues riffs, for the most part) seems to lag. Luckily, it’s easy to miss the slower moments when you’re busy wondering just which of the seven stages of grief Lund is in.
Playlist Picks: “Gettin’ Down on the Mountain,” “Bible on the Dash,” “Cows Around”