Western Swing and Waltzes and Other Punchy Songs
La Honda Records/ Thirty Tigers
Colter Wall’s latest album, Western Swing & Waltzes and Other Punchy Songs is the 3rd full length album in the continuing series of stories from the plainsman out of Swift Current, Canada. Colter produced this album and presents 5 brand new songs, 3 well-selected covers, and 2 traditional songs. The album exudes much more of a live feel than 2017’s self-titled Colter Wall, and 2018’s Songs of the Plains, both produced by Dave Cobb. With this album, you feel what it’s like out on the road, at the hotels, and on the stages where many of the songs were born and road tested.
The title track, “Western Swings and Waltzes”, opens with a beautiful ode to Canada and touches on the various elements of Colter’s life that he lives when not out on the road. “I Ride an old Paint/Leavin’ Cheyenne” is wonderfully bare as Colter and harmonica player, Jake Groves, cut a solid version that stands with the many versions recorded since first published in 1927’s American Songbag by Carl Sandburg. “High and Mighty” and “Cowpoke” are 2 of the covers on the album but honestly, they fit so well you might confuse them with something Colter might write. Colter and the Scary prairie boys put a lot of heart into the Marty Robbins hit “Big Iron”. Colter said recently via twitter, “it’s a tribute to Grady Martin as much as Marty Robbins” and the extremely skilled Pat Lyons tackles some of Grady’s guitar runs by taking turns on dobro, pedal steel, electric guitar, 2nd acoustic, and mandolin. You’ll also hear the addition of Emily Gimble on piano, and Doug Moreland playing fiddle on “Big Iron”, as well as a variety of other tracks throughout the album.
While hard to choose, “Henry and Sam” may be my favorite song on the album due to Colter’s ability to write about the tools of the trade as though they breathed air. The entire band is locked in with this track as Aaron Goodrich’s drumming is perfectly subtle, and Jason Simpson’s bass playing chugs and bumps in all the right places. Jake Groves on jaw harp and harmonica, and Pat Lyons with some rich baritone guitar are as country and western as you could ask for and very well done.
Out on La Honda Records/Thirty Tigers, the album was recorded at Yellow Dog Studios in Wimberly, TX and allowed for label mate and Texas native, Vincent Neil Emerson, being able to drop in and sing backing vocals on another traditional tune, “Diamond Joe”. “Houlihans at the Holiday Inn” and “Talking Prairie Boy” are lifted directly from life on the road with the later having a nice cameo from fellow Canadian, Blake Berglund on the “Creaky Screen Door.” There is a great version of “Rocky Mountain Rangers” on Colters Youtube channel labeled “The Bunk House Sessions” that I would suggest checking out in addition to listening to the album version.
I also have to mention the amazing detail that goes into every piece of the album via Connie Collingsworth at Ridin’ High Productions. The album is available in all formats through your favorite online retailers as well as directly through Colter’s page, www.colterwall.com. Colter’s label, www.lahondarecords.com, is also a great resource to keep up to date with what’s coming down the line for Colter and company.