Canadian cowboy Corb Lund has grown a cult following with his off-kilter twang and Southern-gothic-meets-city-streets sense of storytelling. Now well into his forties, the singer-songwriter, who grew up on a ranch in Alberta, has partnered with producer Dave Cobb (Jason Isbell, Sturgill Simpson) for his newest LP, Things That Can’t Be Undone. Set for release October 9th on New West Records, the album’s first track, “Weight of the Gun,” is premiering exclusively below on Rolling Stone Country.
Highlighting his sticky drawl with a newfound Motown spirit laced with heartbreak honky-tonk, “Weight of the Gun” finds Lund flirting in fresh sonic waters, while still keeping his sardonic mix of eerie lyrics and deceptively joyful vamps well intact. “My hands are empty but my mind is filled with things that cannot be undone,” he sings to a grooving doo-wop beat, echoed by a female chorus that sounds more likely to be sporting Sixties-era beehives than cowboy hats.
“‘Weight of the Gun’ is one of my favorite tracks on the record,” Lund tells Rolling Stone Country. “The music is vaguely upbeat but the story is very dark. It’s kind of a Louis L’Amour style western tale crossed with Motown or soul or something. I’ve never written in that style before and it’s really fun to sing that one live. I’m lucky because my band is very versatile and they always have an answer for anything I throw at them. We’ve been playing together live for [nearly] 15 years and I always use them to record. They nailed this song perfectly.”
Cobb — along with that very band — helped Lund delve more deeply into all facets of the Americana landscape, playing with indie rock riffs and exotic, Middle Eastern tones as much as deconstructing classic country composition. Maybe it was his experience making Counterfeit Blues, a set of previously recorded or written tracks cut in two days at Sun Studios, that spurred the new inspiration, or the three years Lund has had to simmer since his last collection of original material, Cabin Fever, was released. Either way, Cobb’s been a crucial partner.
“He’s extremely spontaneous and in the moment, and he’s fearless with arrangements,” says Lund about his producer. “He has a taste for really organic, old-fashioned sounds, which suits my band and songs and voice perfectly. All the vocals were cut live and we were all in the same room. Lots of bleed.”
It’s appropriate, really: Lund’s never been one to cover his lyrics in slick bandages.