Corb Lund (from the album Cabin Fever on New West Records) - Rubbery distortion announces the arrival of Cabin Fever, album number seven for Corb Lund. The sound crackles, giving “Gettin’ Down on the Mountain” a sonic edge to match the bite of Corb’s words.
Getting down hints at a good time and the message is firmly embedded in the song, though the reasons are not about the party, more about survival. “Gettin’ Down on the Mountain” takes a stand. Lyrical fingers are pointed and the signs of the coming doom are clear. The narrator knows that he “don’t wanna be around when the shit goes down”, summing up observations and decisions with the line “I think I see a rip in the social fabric, brother can you pass the ammo.”
Cabin Fever is the sound of a honky tonk man. Corb Lund is a song crafter who knows his audience by knowing what makes him happy. His delivery of these songs showcases a musician who can turn a phrase and clearly hear the riff it should ride on. What cannot be constructed is the joy and fun which Mr. Lund is having with his music.
For the songs to manifest, Corb headed to the remote cabin he built with his girlfriend and former bronc rider/favorite uncle Lynn Jensen. After the hand-crafted spruce and poplar building was finished, Lund’s thirteen-year relationship crumbled and his uncle passed away. Woodshedding – literally – came next: “I ended up spending time up there alone for weeks at a time, in the winter, with three feet of snow,” says Lund. “Cabin Fever is what they call it when you get a little nuts from being isolated…”. In addition to chopping wood to keep warm, Lund did a lot of thinking and writing. Taking breaks from the cabin, he spent months in such hotspots as Las Vegas, Austin, and New York City, where song ideas continued to flow.
When Corb and The Hurtin’ Albertans, guitarist/multi-instrumentalist Grant Siemens, upright bassist Kurt Ciesla, and drummer Brady Valgardson, followed the footsteps in the snow back to the cabin, they demoed new songs for Cabin Fever. Cutting the tracks in an Edmonton studio, the boys decided to keep things loose and live, with no overdubs, resulting in “way more inner mesh,” says Lund. “It feels more real, like a band. The whole thing was organic sounding and we like that.”
The quartet, which Corb often refers to as “a seven-piece band because Grant plays a bunch of stuff,” dig in and deliver ballads and barn stormers full of country heart and bar room bravado. “The Gothest Girl I Can” and “Mein Deutsches Motorrad” raise a rockabilly ruckus, “Priceless Antique Pistol Shoots Startled Owner” offers Corb’s prize w inning yodels, “Drink It Like You Mean It” lets the pedal steel lead for a western swing and “Pour 'Em Kinda Strong” uses Alt Country when placing its order.
Texas singer/songwriter Hayes Carrl shares a co-write and a microphone on “Bible On the Dash”. The song echoes the childhood stories of religion saving your ass when you need it as the traveling troubadours in the tale swipe a Gideon’s from the last hotel to help get them out of sticky situations with southern lawmen and border guards. Tenderness raises the bar on Cabin Fever as a mountain man makes a plea for love to stay a little longer in “September”. Love, past and present, gets revisited in “One Left in the Chamber”. No names are mentioned but every love that came along gets seen as a bullet form a gun.
Corb Lund is a master songwriter, a feat recognized in his homeland where the JUNO Award recipient has won kudos in his native land; the Canadian Country Music Association has named Corb Roots Artist of the Year 7 consecutive years from 2004 – 2010. Danny McCloskey/RA