Colter Wall (from the album Colter Wall)
Twenty-one seasons have pushed prairie winds under the big skies that cover Swift Current, Saskatchewan and its native son, Colter Wall. Though his flesh and bones have logged roughly two decades, Colter Wall sings with a voice that echoes from ages past as his vocals channel the souls that crossed the mountains and plains of North America. The hard luck and tough times that built spirit are the framework for the songs on Colter Wall, the debut full-length album from the Canadian songman. Colter Wall opens the album on a simple note pattern from an acoustic guitar as the audio curtain parts to reveal a man sleeping on the snow of Speedy Creek covering Colter’s hometown of Swift Current. Words erect the skeleton of the man being rousted by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police as the character counting “Thirteen Silver Dollars” in his mind references Jimmie Rodgers, a John B. Stetson, a bottle of baby’s bluebird wine, and a hidden stash. Colter Wall offers more than words and music on his self-titled debut, he introduces new friends in the tales, humans that walk out of the songs to share their history and hopes, their highs and lows.
Picking up the guitar at age thirteen, Colter Wall found his first chords in the hard rock of AC/DC, Black Sabbath, and Led Zeppelin. He discovered the old Blues artists which led him to Folk music and he claims that once he heard Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice (It’s Alright)” he began songwriting. Boxcars and migrant camps are the background for “Transcendental Ramblin’ Railroad Blues” as the stories of Canadian Wild West (“Bald Butte”), betrayal (“Kate McCannon”), rode hard and put away wet friendships (“Me and Big Dave”), barroom romances (“You Look to Yours”), and drug-fueled visions (“Codeine Dream”) all become diary pages read aloud on the album. Colter Wall finds a set of wheels and a like-minded companion in Arlo Guthrie as goals are set with “Motorcycle” as the album climbs “Snake Mountain Blues” on footsteps of threats and desperation. The songwriters and troubadours that were heroes and muses become peers as the influence of Ramblin’ Jack Elliot, Townes Van Zandt, Woody Guthrie, and Hank Williams play in the chords of Colter Wall.