Vinyl Vlog 463

Vinyl Vlog 463

Wednesday, 25 November 2020
”90 Seconds of Your Time” from Agricultural Tragic LP by Corb Lund.

A deeper look at the grooves pressed into the Agricultural Tragic LP by Corb Lund. It’s genuinely hard to believe that Agricultural Tragic is Corb Lund’s tenth full-length album (fifth for New West). Since first appearing in 1995, the Alberta-based band has maintained a release schedule which has managed to illustrate consistent growth and improvement on a timeline which it’s almost possible to set one’s watch to. Not only that, when fans hear that Corb Lund has a new album coming out, excitement is easy to find because fans know they can expect a particular level of quality and substance from the group. That is not to say each album sounds exactly the same, just that there has never been a moment when fans have felt as though Corb Lund has made a significant misstep or blunder from which there is no recovery. That tradition continues on Agricultural Tragic; this time, the band takes a more decidedly “Seventies country-rock” angle to approach their muse, and the results are as solid and confident as they are glossy and vibrant.

From the moment “90 Seconds of You Time” stomps out to open the A-side of the album, there’s no question that Corb Lund immediately have listeners’ attention. From note one, Kenny Vaughan’s guitars and Brady Valgardson’s drums take center stage behind Lund himself and set to pushing the singer even further toward listeners; the drums punctuate every stanza of Lund’s lyric sheet while the guitar doesn’t support the song so much as frame every word the singer delivers. In effect, listeners get pushed through the whole song, as though the band wants them to experience it on their terms only. It works surprisingly well too; some listeners might get put off by the ambition expressed so obviously by the band, but the band almost strokes their collective hand reassuringly as they pull them along, and the sound is so well arranged that it doesn’t feel like a chore in the slightest. That energy shifts slightly toward a more playful Lynyrd Skynyrd sound and dynamic with the second track on the side, “Old Man,” and then to an old country-esque, Johnny-and-June/call-and-response exercise in the form of “I Think You Oughtta Try Whiskey.” Within those movements alone, Corb Lund will have listeners in the palm of the band’s collective hand. They could do anything, and listeners would be all in; that works out well too – it makes “Raining Horses” permissible (because it’s the single worst cut on the album) and allows the new country/rock hybrid that the band tests out with “Oklahomans!” to not stick out like a pork chop at a Jewish wedding – and will find themselves still riding an impressive wave of energy as “Grizzley Bear Blues” roars through with lap steel blazing and electric guitars ca-chunking. There too, Corb Lund proves that he is adept at playing it coy as he nearly cat-calls his way through lines like, “Yeah, them old grizzley bear blues/ Got some conflicting views/ And not too much good news about them bears” and banks his way along off of those guitars, just for grins, until the side closes.

The B-side re-opens with Seventies country-rock guns blazing again as “Dance With Your Spurs On” does precisely that and rests in the sweet spot between the Allman Brothers Band and Lynyrd Skynyrd in their prime, but flounders awkwardly when the tempo decreases for “Louis L’Amour.” On this album, having a heart is no kind of boon and that “Louis L’Amour” layers on the sacharine just like its namesake used to actually feels like salt in a wound. Happily, Corb Lund doesn’t stay down-tempo too long (Never Not Had Horses” scrambles halfway back to a more comfortable structure), and “Ranchin’, Ridin’, Romance (Two Outta Three Ain’t Bad)” recovers the running very well before the side closes. In fact, the album’s close goes above-and-beyond with “Rat Patrol” and the rockabilly that comes with it proves to be a great final fireworks display before the album gets shuttered.

After the close which comes after “Rat Patrol,” listeners will find they’re still glowing from the experience of running front-to-back with Agricultural Tragic. As it turns out, while the number of chances that Corb Lund took with this album was not small, each was taken with confidence and that proved to be what got the album over. In a word, Agricultural Tragic proved to work perfectly; it’s obviously the work of seasoned veterans who know how to make their inspiration work for them, and call it forth on demand. They’ve already done it repeatedly, and there’s little doubt that they’ll be able to do it some more. [Bill Adams]


Agricultural Tragic is out now. Buy it here on Amazon.

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