So far Canadian country artists have been delivering great record after great record in 2015. At least the ones I’ve heard and reviewed right here on the blog. Of course they have their fair share of terrible mainstream artists and many Canadian country radio stations will play some of the bad music that comes right out of here in the States. The best they have to offer though easily rank right up there with some of the best here in America and amongst them are Lindi Ortega, Whitney Rose and Dean Brody. They have all set the bar high for Canadian country this year. So in the last few weeks I was skeptical of Corb Lund being able to live up to these lofty heights. Lund has definitely emerged lately as one of the more notable country artists from up north and his new album via New West Records, Things That Can’t Be Undone, has been highly anticipated by many. Adding more hype was the news that the producer of the album would be Dave Cobb, who has been a part of some of the most critically acclaimed country projects in recent years. So I dug into this record expecting the typical sound from Lund and instead he delivers something completely different from his past albums. And you know what? It’s really good.
Things That Can’t Be Undone opens with “Weight of the Gun.” One thing you’ll notice right away with this song is the distinct change in sound for Lund, as it has a decidedly Motown influence. This isn’t a bad thing for Lund, but it might be jarring to some longtime Lund fans. The song itself is about a man’s guilt after shooting a man dead and the consequences of it. This is a song you’ll either love or hate. Put me down for the former. “Run This Town” is your classic heartbreak song where the protagonist is left wondering what could have been if the relationship had lasted. The country meets rockabilly tune “Alt Berliner Blues” sounds more like your traditional sound from Lund. There’s plenty of steel guitar and it makes for quite a catchy tune.
The slower paced “Alice Eyes” is about a man being captivated by his love’s eyes. It’s her defining feature and when he looks into him he knows he belongs with her. This song is great proof that Lund has a knack for love songs. “Sadr City” sees Lund singing about living the military life and how he never wants to go back to the scary places he has been when he was serving. Lund takes a different approach from your usual song about the military in country music, in that he sings about the fears and tragedies of serving your country. It’s a real and honest song that makes you realize the sacrifice the brave men and women who serve your country make every single day.
Lund shows off his storytelling chops with “Washed-Up Rock Star Factory Blues.” Lund sings about how he hasn’t sold as many records lately and the crowds at his shows have been down a little bit, so he has to go back to working in the factory. When he goes back to work at the factory, his foreman and co-workers throw it in his face and remind him of how he quit years ago and vowed to never be back there. The most humorous line is when they tell him to go paint the back fence and that since he’s an artist, that he should “be kind of sensitive about it.” By the end of the song, Lund wakes up and realizes it was all a nightmare. It makes him feel more grateful to be doing what he loves and that maybe he shouldn’t complain so much at times. This is definitely one of my favorite songs on the record.
Lund calls back to his roots with “S Lazy H.” Lund himself grew up on the ranches and this song shows how proud he was of this upbringing. But the story of the song has an unfortunate ending, as the man is forced to sell 20 sections of the ranches to make ends meet. Eventually the bank consumes the rest and the man has lost something dear to him. Once again Lund brilliantly captures the emotions of the song and the instrumentation sets the tone perfectly. The rocking “Goodbye Colorado” is your classic country leaving song. The twangy and loud guitars throughout the song are enough to make the most jaded country fan smile. Lund wrote this song with Reckless Kelly’s vocalist Willy Braun.
“Talk Too Much” is just a flat-out fun song to listen to and move your feet along with. There’s no better way to describe it. The album closes out with “Sunbeam,” a love ballad about a man who sings of his Sunbeam, the woman he loves and who he hasn’t seen in many years. He years and also vows to see her again. This bluesy country love song is a solid song to cap out a very good album.
Corb Lund’s Things That Can’t Be Undone is an album that is rooted in country and takes influences from Motown, soul, blues and pop to create something completely unlike any other album he has released. For some this is a step in the wrong direction. To me personally, I found this record to be refreshing, unique and exciting. Last year I reviewed and got my first taste of Lund’s music with his album Counterfeit Blues. And I never let on in that review how bored I was at times listening to it. But I can wholeheartedly say I enjoyed all of Things That Can’t Be Undone. With each listen it gets better and I found myself getting into it more than I expected. I certainly applaud Lund for trying something new and bold and brining on producer extraordinaire Dave Cobb, whom I can tell really helped this album stand out. Canadian country has delivered in spades this year and Lund is yet another artist from the Great White North to deliver a great record.