Like jeggings for men and the upcoming reboot of “ALF,” gallows-humored, apocalypse-minded Canadian singer-songwriters are, apparently, an idea whose time has come.
Self-described “dissident country” singer Corb Lund has been nibbling at the margins of success since his 1995 debut; his seventh and latest studio disc, “Cabin Fever,” feels like a breakthrough at last. Written Bon Iver-style in a backwoods cabin outside of Edmonton, Canada, and recorded live-to-tape with his band, the Hurtin’ Albertans, “Cabin Fever” is a doozy — a soft-hearted, ice-pick-eyed album that toggles between old-school honky-tonk and rambling, misfit folk.
Opening track “Gettin’ Down on the Mountain” offers a guide to survival when the petrol runs out (“I think I see a rip in the social fabric / Brother, can you pass the ammo?”) and makes a case for Lund as the spiritual offspring of Molly Ivins and Hayes Carll.
The latter shows up in human form on “Bible on the Dash,” about a touring band that relies on a purloined copy of the Good Book to get out of speeding tickets (“My foot is heavy with redemption”) and worse.
Lund is a revelation, laconic and scary smart, with a devil’s eye for details. “Cabin Fever” flags only occasionally. Even the pulpy “The Gothest Girl I Can” and “Priceless Antique Pistol Shoots Startled Owner” (“Despite my injuries good sir / I cannot lie / It remains an elegant and stylish way to die”), with its Olympic-caliber yodeling, can’t live up to the promise of their titles.
“Gettin’ Down on the Mountain,” “Cows Around,”
“Bible on the Dash”