October 12th brings us the release of yet another one of this fall’s most anticipated albums, the second full-length release from Saskatchewan, Canada native Colter Wall. The 11 song album, produced by the great Dave Cobb, brings us a brand new dose of the undeniably raw and real soul that is Colter Wall, and this time he takes us on a deeper journey into his heart and his mind than ever before.
“The new record is, to sum it up, a love letter to my home. To where I come from,” Colter told me as we spoke about the new record. “It’s western. Fanatically, musically, lyrically. That’s the subject of the album. It’s about the North-West and the plains, the things we do up there, and the kind of people we are,” he explained even further. Asking if that would be a departure from what we’ve come to know from his previous catalog he answered “It’s a little bit of a departure from what I’ve done in the past in some ways, but it’s also a lot of the same. I’ve been wanting to make this record for a while because I love western music. I grew up with it. And as someone from the North West I feel very proud of where I’m from and the heritage this music represents.”
Beyond that, Colter hopes this record will give people a better idea about the North West Plains and the people who live there, saying “I also feel like not a lot of people know much about that area of the world, it gets kind of lost to history and mythos, so I just wanted to tell that story from my point of view.”
The subject of the legendary Billy Don Burns and his song “Wild Dogs” being recorded for the record came up in conversation. I mentioned to Colter that I spent some time with Billy back in August and he expressed an incredible amount of gratitude and excitement that the song was being included on the album. Giving a short laugh Colter launched into the story of how it all came to be: “Billy Don came to a show I did at a place called Stickyz Rock ‘N’ Roll Chicken Shack down in Little Rock, Arkansas,” he recalled. “It was the first time I’d ever met him and he came to me and said ‘Man, I just love what you’re doing and I’d like to pitch you some songs to think about recording.’ I said ‘absolutely’, but there was really no place private for us to go, there were already fans in the building, and there was no green room. I wanted to have a quiet place to go and listen to the songs he had, and finally he says ‘My Hummer is parked out front’. So we jumped in there and Billy played me 6 or 7 just absolutely beautiful songs, and one of them happened to be ‘Wild Dogs’. I recorded it on my phone and listened back to it later and I decided it would go really well on this record. Just the way that it sounds, it just felt right.”
For more about Colter Wall check out our 2016 audio interview also featuring “Young Mary” Mary Sparr!
With 11 brand new tracks, and some featuring the harmonica work of Willie Nelson’s longtime harmonica player Mickey Raphael, and the steel guitar work of Lloyd Green I asked Colter which was his favorite. Thinking for a second he responded “From a songwriting standpoint I am most proud of ‘Plain To See Plainsman’. As far as to listen to, we recorded a cowboy traditional called ‘Tying Knots In The Devil’s Tail’. It’s me, Blake Berglund who is also from Saskatchewan, and Corb Lund, who is from Alberta. There’s 15 verses in this song, no chorus. It a true folk song so we thought ‘there’s three of us, you take 5, I’ll take 5 and he can take 5.’ We grabbed a bottle of tequila and went in to record and it turned out even better than I ever imagined it would. It’s definitely the loosest and most fun song on the record, I think,” he added with a laugh.
One of the things that makes this album unique is the timing of it’s release. In today’s music business many artists go years between albums, but this one comes only about a year and a half after last year’s self-titled “Colter Wall”. Speaking about that Colter said “Man I always want to put them [albums] out. I wish things could be like back in the day where artists and bands put out a record every 6 months. There’s nothing like being in the studio. Sitting down and recording is one of my favorite things to do.”
Expanding on the subject he continued. “Your records as a singer-songwriter are like your kids. You get to watch them go out into the world and some of them may lay around in the house and don’t do much for you, but some go out in the world and send you back checks,” he said laughing. “I just love the process of getting in the studio and producing something new. It’s a magical thing for me. If I can, I’d like to continue to put out an album a year.”
The excitement from Colter about this album is unmistakable. Speaking with him and seeing his pure enthusiasm for the project leaves no doubt at all that he has recorded something he truly loves. It shows in his eyes and face not just when he talks about it, but when he sings it on stage. As we finished up our interview Colter looked me in the eye with all the confidence in the world and told me “I know everyone probably says their newest record is their favorite, but in my eyes it’s the best work I’ve done thus far in my career.”
That statement alone should leave each and every one of us counting down the days until “Songs Of The Plains” releases October 12th.
To order your copy of “Songs Of The Plains” head on over to http://www.colterwall.com/ now!