Colter Wall, Little Songs Review
Colter Wall, Little Songs Review
From Prairie to Vinyl: A Deep Dive into Colter Wall’s Little Songs
Nestled into the sweeping plains of Canada’s West, Colter Wall channels his heartland roots and spirit of the cowboy into his latest album, Little Songs. This musical expedition brings us face to face with the harsh realities and humble joys of prairie life. The music is steeped in rich earthy tones, echoing the wide-open spaces of Wall’s Saskatchewan home and filled with compelling narratives that tug at your heartstrings.
The album opens with the twin tales of “Prairie Evening/Sagebrush Waltz,” setting the stage with a vibrant musical narrative. Each chord struck and verse sung feels like a leisurely trot through the high and lonesome plains under a wide-open sky streaked with hues of red and orange. The transition between the two songs is as smooth as a prairie breeze, a testament to Wall’s craftsmanship.
Wall’s brand of wit is on full display in “Standing Here,” a traditional country shuffle that’s foot-tapping and thought-provoking. His deep, masculine voice commands attention, perfectly balanced with the warm tones of the backing band.
The confessionary tale of “Corralling the Blues” unveils Wall’s mastery of the country-western vocal tradition. His use of vibrato is akin to a fine painter knowing just when to add that extra dab of color – sometimes dramatically wobbly, at times subtle, and at moments, masterfully absent.
Then, we’re taken through the vast plains with “The Coyote & The Cowboy,” a cover of Ian Tyson’s song that paints a vivid picture of cowboy life. Wall’s gruff timbre and the rich talent of his bandmates perfectly capture the unlikely friendship between the solitary cowboy and the trickster coyote.
“Honky Tonk Nighthawk” is a prairie country blues anthem, showcasing Wall’s baritone voice as it confidently meanders through the well-worn changes. His mastery of country music aesthetics comes to the fore in “For a Long While,” where storytelling lyrics, haunting vocals, and a relaxed country western vibe converge to create a musical masterpiece.
“Cow/Calf Blue Yodel” sees Wall’s skillful yodeling take center stage. This distinctive sonic stamp sets him apart from many of his contemporaries and adds a layer of authenticity and excitement to his music.
The title track, “Little Songs,” brilliantly captures the album’s essence – it’s a two-stepping ode to life in the Canadian West, its hardships, joys, and the uplifting power of music. It’s an auditory microcosm of Wall’s neighboring ranches and farms, filled with melancholy, resilience, and hope.
The penultimate song, “Evangelina,” covers Hoyt Axton’s 1963 hit, elegantly reinterpreted by Wall. His rich baritone vocals perfectly sync with the haunting strains of the pedal steel, resulting in a sound that’s as wide as the prairie sky.
The journey through Wall’s “Little Songs” collection concludes with “The Last Loving Words.” It’s a fitting goodbye, a wistful cowboy waltz that rounds off the album in a way only Wall can – introspective, poignant, and deeply moving.
In Little Songs, Wall captures the essence of the prairie life – the loneliness, the harsh conditions, the camaraderie, and the simple joys. It’s a musical journey that takes us from the heart of Canada’s West and delivers us to a place of shared understanding and appreciation for these “little songs” that fill the “big empty.” It’s an album that’s as evocative as it is enjoyable, a testament to Wall’s unique blend of country, folk, and western soundscapes.
La Honda Records/RCA Records
July 14, 2023