Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Matt Oliver, Mastered by Sam Patlove
This is Corb Lund, straight from the Canadian Rockies, up there where you could swear the buffalo still roam, by listening to the singer tell it. Sure, they bed down at night next to the poker houses and share the open prairie with some dreadful oil pipelines, but they still roam nonetheless. It's something. The world that Lund chooses to bring to life is the one that he seems to be living - that of a proud, thrill-seeking man, with a stiff backbone and a losing streak that stretches longer than a country mile. It could just be a form of humbleness, or it could be an actual losing streak. He makes believers out of all of us, the way he hammers the point home, giving us food for thought that he might be as cursed as cursed can be. If it's not one regret, it's another. He's chasing down the "dirty little thief" who stole the five-dollar bill upon which he just wrote his new song down on. We feel sorry for him, until we learn shortly thereafter that he may have had it coming, having already stole the "dirty little thief's" two colts and the first verse of the song from him. He's already pegged himself as a horse smuggling plagiarist 20 seconds into the song, but we're still rooting for him to overcome the awful chain of losing events that he seems to think he's going through at the time.
He's like a Burt Reynolds-type character from one of the "Smokey and the Bandit" movies - some of the times - with the wry smile and the cocksure look about him, even when it's one mess after another that he finds himself in. And then other times, he's playing the role of the sensitive native, Canadian son, gutted by the raping of the land he grew up on, as per the wonderful ballad, "This Is My Prairie." On that song, he sings, "They can drill and they can mine all my smoldering bones/Cause this is my prairie and this is my home/The water is poisoned/My calves are all dead/The children are all sick/And the aquifer's bled/And what a big pipeline/Right through pop's grove." He insists that it's there, in Calgary, Alberta, where he's going to make his last stand, whenever that time may come. It sounds as if he has a hard time grabbing the right cards from the dealer. He does it night after night, coming up just short and walking away, with the morning sun peeking grapefruit pink over the far east horizon, kicking gravel across the parking lot on the way back to his pickup.
He's attracted to the late nights, it seems, but they aren't fond of him. They accidentally take him in and then they spit him out when they've turned him upside down and shaken all of the gold, silver and love out of his pockets. The late nights make him flinch and yet they force him to level with himself and that's when he learns his lessons. It's when he starts to think about how "cuttin' back your losses is just another way to win." Not losing so much is not exactly a victory, but it might be all he's going to get so he throws on the wry smile and steals some fucking horses.