Review: Distinctive, ‘punchy’ set from Canadian Colter Wall

Colter Wall, “Western Swing & Waltzes and Other Punchy Songs” (La Honda Records)

Colter Wall, who comes from Canadian cattle country, possesses a baritone that gives his music a distinctive brand.

It’s a voice as raw as the prairie wind in his native Saskatchewan, with a vibrato akin to a rusty gate on the back 40. Wall actually sounds like a bassoon — not the kind of instrument usually found on a ranch.

Again: distinctive.

On “Western Swing & Waltzes and Other Punchy Songs” (pause for breath), Wall sings about doggies, bucking broncs, cowpokes, houlihans and, of course, bovine raising. He rhymes chorin’ with boredom, makes fun of IPAs and notes that he hails from a place where the tallest buildings are grain elevators.

Wall mixes original material, traditional tunes and covers, including a rousing rendition of Marty Robbins’ “Big Iron.” His crack backup band provides support on Dobro, harp, fiddle and weepy pedal steel.

Some songs resemble demos recorded in a tack room, but even then, Wall’s singing sounds sonorous. Here’s a vote for the album’s vinyl version to fully appreciate that unvarnished, vibrant vibrato.

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