“This is a record I made. I think it’s pretty good. I hope other folks do too.”
That’s what Colter Wall has to say about his new album, Western Swing & Waltzes and Other Punchy Songs, featuring the old Stan Jones prairie classic “Cowpoke,” set to drop August 28th. For the uninitiated, Wall is a young Canadian singer/songwriter who has a deep affinity for the songs of the Old West and the cowboy life and sings like he’s straight outta the bunkhouse.
Wall’s two previous albums were produced in Nashville by Dave Cobb, who has made a career of bringing out the best in roots artists. For this new album, though, Wall decided to handle the production duties himself in the hill country of South Texas.
“Producing my own record has been a goal of mine since I started putting out music,” Wall told American Songwriter via e-mail. “It’s a pretty easy gig to be honest, given you know what it is you’re after. I’ve also had the benefit of working alongside some great producers on previous projects. So just like anything, you learn some tips and tricks and apply yourself. I made this record at yellow DOG Studios outside Wimberly, Texas. It’s a beautiful spot in the hill country right on the Blanco River. Perfect place to hunker down with a bunch of friends, play songs and drink beer. That’s how we approached this album.”
“I set out to capture something closer to the live band sound with this record,” he continued. “I’ve been touring with, with the exception of a few different drummers, the same guys for the better part of the past couple years. We have a blast on the road and I wanted that to be audible on the record. I think of some of my favourite albums, guys like Jerry Jeff Walker and Gonzo Band. You can hear how much fun those guys were having. They leave in a lot of studio banter and stuff like that. That’s sort of what we were after.”
As might be expected, Wall is influenced by a number of Canadian artists, but not the better-known ones like Leonard Cohen or Shawn Mendes. “Canada has had a number of great musicians/songwriters and naturally I’m proud of that. It’s important to me to sing and record Canadian songs and shed a little light on some lesser known Canadian artists. Lewis Martin Pederson is a Saskatchewan poet, songwriter, and cowboy. He put out three records (that I know of) in the ‘70s, and everything from the writing to the production is fantastic. Of course, I think the greatest songwriter in that realm of music would have to be Ian Tyson. Call me biased being Canadian but that’s how I see it.”
Wall covers the 1961 Marty Robbins gunfighter ballad “Big Iron” on the new album, saying, “I’m a big Marty Robbins fan. Have been for a while. Most people know him for his gunfighter ballads and trail songs records, but his catalogue was huge and diverse. Chris LeDoux is also an influence. As far as western music and cowboy songs go, it’d be a disservice not to know these guys and their records.”
Not unlike the aforementioned genuine working cowboy Chris LeDoux, who died in 2005, Wall is the real deal when it comes to participating in actual hands-on ranch work.
“I’ve spent much of the ‘Covid times’ working on getting this record out and promoting it. Apart from that, I’ve been staying busy helping a friend in Texas. Just ranchin’, trying to make a hand. I’m lucky to have friends all around the states and Canada that I’d consider real stockmen. So when the schedule permits, I like to stay with these buds of mine and try to learn a little. It’s an influence on my writing, but moreover, it’s for my own sake and peace of mind. Ranching is a passion of mine and just like music, there’s always something new to be learned. The day you stop learning, you might as well be dead.”