With a bourbon-soaked baritone that could make John Wayne shake in his boots, Canadian country crooner Colter Wall first hollered over our attention last year with his self-titled debut (which we picked as one of favorite albums of 2017). Just over a year and a half later, the Saskatchewan singer-songwriter has dropped a set of songs dedicated to the northern fields he grew up among.
Produced once again by Nashville revivalist Dave Cobb, Songs of the Plains doubles down on the stripped-down sound of his debut, which centers on his hollow acoustic guitar and an echoey microphone, along with sparse flourishes of harmonica and pedal steel.
With songs like “Saskatchewan in 1881,” “Calgary Round-up” and “Manitoba Man,” he remind us Yankees that Canada has cowboys too. Wall is, above all things, a traditionalist, digging his spurs into the sandy soils of folk and country music past, with a lot more in common with the the 19th century than the 21st.
As such, his dusty story songs about outlaws, gamblers, coal miners, cattle ranchers and railroad men might border on cliché for some. But if you like the grand ole country and western sound, you won’t find a more pure voice than Colter Wall.
Ryan is a writer, editor and vinyl collector currently based in Los Angeles. He started Mini Music Critic in 2017.