By: Amanda Alvarez
Colter Wall is a modern folk singer that evokes living life on the plains while not being attached to any institution or other person. His music’s spirit is transient. While he’s a native of Saskatchewan, the Canadian province, he taps into the spirit of American folk very cleanly. With his deep, melodic voice and slow rhythms, his music is leisurely and allows you to sit back and fully immerse yourself into this plainsman’s world.
His new single, “Cowpoke”, off of his upcoming album Western Swing & Waltzes and Other Punchy Songs, is a cover of the Stan Jones original and leans into the American ideal of the West. The use of echoey, open production, harmonica, and a mournful steel guitar all add to a modern listener’s idealized vision of the West. A cowpoke is another term for a cowboy, and this choice of song fits perfectly into the image that Colter Wall has crafted. He creates nostalgia for an era that none of us have lived through, a yearning for the lonesome life of the nomadic cowpoke.
His take on the Stan Jones original creates a much lonelier sound. Where Jones layered harmonies to create a chorus behind him, Wall’s voice is singular. His steel guitar serves as the chorus, solidifying Wall’s nomadic identity. Jones’s version is also much more staccato, his guitar plucks punctuating his words and vocalizations. Wall’s voice floats on the air as he slows the song down, steeping the listener in the feeling that they too are meandering through the ranges while riding their own bronc. “Cowpoke” compliments “Western Swing & Waltzes” upbeat, camaraderie focused beat. The two singles show two sides of this Western fantasy: one finds themself floating across the Plains; the other finds themself dancing with their loved ones as the seasons change where they’ve settled down. I’m excited to see how Wall further deepens this theme in the album as he continues to cultivate his unique folk sound.
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