Colter Wall – Imaginary Appalachia
James rocks. You knew this.
He sent my this awesome CD as one of two (!) birthday prezzies this year. I know!
I don’t tend to like the New Country, to me it just sounds like pop music with a twang, or frustrated Van Halen fans who feel they need to tow the yee-haw line in order to sell records. There are exceptions to every rule, of course, but that’s my overall impression.
Colter Wall suffers none of that. The feel here hews more to Johnny, Waylon, and Merle, with bluegrass and a world of southern hurt built-in. His voice, believe it or not, melds Johnny and Gordon Lightfoot, which is light years ahead of what any shiny added-twang CMT young gun can muster. I wasn’t sure, at first, about the vibrato on the vocals, but it grew on me. He doesn’t sound as young as he is. And what he’s singing is equally important to how he does it – this is real, bloody story-telling. Which goes to show, there’s a big difference between putting on airs and actually having dust on your boots. This record is the real deal.
The Dead South appear on Johnny Boy’s Bones, Belle Plain adds lovely vocals to Caroline, and he even (perfectly) covers Townes Van Zandt’s tune Nothin’.
I saw a comment online that summed it up: Saw this kid last night in Chicago. His voice is startling. His guitar work is original. He’ll be around as long as he wants to be.
This is, hands-down, a fantastic record, top to bottom. It evokes haunted images of barrooms, graveyards and crossroads. It invokes the powers of the greats. It lays it all out raw. This is the best damn record I have heard in ages. Completely recommended.
If you stick around, the whole thing is here: