When we sing about our favorite contemporary country music singers and songwriters, we can never make enough noise about Corb Lund. Maybe it’s because he’s from Canada, so he’s out of sight and out of mind for some. This may be because some consider the meat of his career to be more in the past than the future, and to put it in horse terms, they put him out to pasture. But few have amassed a catalog of songs as quality and compelling as his.
Take for example Corb’s 2007 concept record released 15 years ago today, Soldier on horseback! Soldier on horseback!. An outright treatise on the use of horses in warfare, it is as studied and scholarly as it is entertaining, especially for a subject that might have seemed so dry and dense. But that’s Corb Lund’s talent: taking subjects that may seem magical or mundane, and making you feel his passion for them.
Corb Lund has always been aided in his quest for country and western music by authenticity. Raised in Alberta, when Corb Lund began composing songs about horses, he did so from a place of knowledge, reverence and authority. As the title suggests, Soldier on horseback! Soldier on horseback! pays tribute to the mounted horsemen of history, from the Cossacks to the belligerents of the American Civil War, including the English who routed Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo. It’s a tip of the hat to the last men who brought majesty to war before mechanization drove them from the battlefield.
Corb Lund’s original songs “I Wanna Be in the Cavalry” and “Horse Soldier, Horse Soldier” are worthy of inclusion right alongside the classic battle anthems of history. While some songwriters settle for two or three verses for a song, one of Corb’s virtues has always been to stretch it to three or four when necessary, while bringing more quality to the writing. than less. The concept arc of this album is classic: the pride and bravery that soldiers feel when they go to war, with thoughts of honor and heroism that lift spirits, but often only find death. and disease awaiting them on the battlefield.
Without being openly anti-war, Soldier on horseback! Soldier on horseback! certainly resolves into that moral, ending with a rendition of “Taps.” Although it was written about soldiers of old and released 15 years ago, the album’s message seems very relevant today, as some still prefer the sound of sabers or outright war and simple instead of leaving these things behind as relics of the past to be written into song. and history.
Although songs of soldiers on horseback complete this concept album, some songs are about soldiers or horses exclusively. “The Horse I Rode In On” and “Especially A Paint” are about horses and heartbreak. “Student Visas” is a song about military intrigue amid the Iran-Contra scandal of the 80s.
There are even a few songs that don’t fit the concept of the album at all. “Brother Brigham, Brother Young” is a historical commentary on Mormonism. “Hard On Equipment (Tool For The Job)” is simply quintessential and hilarious Corb Lund songwriting at its best, mixing character creation with real-life vignettes. The same goes for “Lament for Lester Cousins”.
These interludes help the concept of this album flow more smoothly, as do the incredibly diverse soundscapes that Corb Lund draws from. From more native 1800s and Old World musical modes, to horn fanfare, to simple honky tonk songs, Corb Lund and the Hurtin’ Albertins find the right vibe for every tune and tell the story too. through music.
In a week when the United States honors its veterans, and in a year when war has inexplicably returned to the European continent, revisiting Corb Lund Soldier on horseback! Soldier on horseback! still seems as relevant and still as rewarding to listen to as it did 15 years ago. Like our veterans and heroes of the past, the music of Corb Lund should not be forgotten.
1 3/4 raised guns (8.5/10)
– – – – – – – –