Western Swing & Waltzes
I Ride an Old Paint / Leavin' Cheyenne
Henry and Sam
High & Mighty
Talkin' Prairie Boy
Rocky Mountain Rangers
Houlihans at the Holiday Inn
Colter Wall is a traditionalist—in sound, style, and presentation. On his third LP, the Saskatchewan native delivers a stoic, self-produced set of Western standards and new originals that favors clarity over fuss, fine detail over grand gestures. These are cowboy songs through and through, rife with romantic flashes of Louis L’Amour (the title track) and outlaw pistols (Marty Robbins’ 1959 classic “Big Iron”), buzzing strings (“Diamond Joe,” also covered by Bob Dylan in 1992), and hills of shimmering pedal steel (Stan Jones’ “Cowpoke,” first cut in 1951 by Elton Britt and the Skytoppers). And though Wall’s baritone evokes an era and level of lived experience that belies his age—he’s 25—it never weighs him down.
On “Talkin’ Prairie Boy,” he tells the story of an awkward exchange in a gentrifying East Nashville, with a cosplaying kid in a “buckaroo hat” who, overhearing the narrator in conversation with friends, “brought over some kinda beer, something called I-P-A.” It’s a song about feeling out of place if not time, one that—in its ease, in its levity—brings to mind Townes Van Zandt’s deadpan performance of “Fraternity Blues,” on 1977’s Live at the Old Quarter, Houston, Texas. “Yeah, I’m outta this place and bound for the farm,” Wall says at its conclusion. “I ain’t taking no greenhorn along/I have a hard enough time just keeping track of myself.” The last thing you hear is his laugh.