All the young dudes were out in force – well, two to be exact – to bring their selection of fine songs and American songbook influences to this Celtic Connections’ gig, leaving us fairly certain that we’ll be hearing a lot more of them both.
From Swift Current, Saskatchewan, Canadian Colter Wall has a languid, scraped boots, shambling approach to his warming, folk-country tales – and his winning, deep-set baritone belies his 21 years on this earth.
With Steve Earle counted as a fan, Colter is sure footed on his own tracks from his self titled album – Codeine Dream, Nashville chum, Me and Big Dave and Motorcycle – and when he threw in the excellent cover of Townes Van Zandt’s Transcendent Ramblin’ Railroad Blues, which is also on the album, he pleased the full house.
From Kentucky, Tyler Childers’ style is totally different. His edgy, spirited and cleverly-crafted lyrics grab you by the shirt collar, give you a hefty prod and command total attention.
This guy has got bluegrass/country outlaw style aplenty. He sprinted through his all-too-short set gloriously, delivering tracks from his second album, Purgatory, which was co-produced by fellow Kentuckian Sturgill Simpson, no stranger himself to taking the Americana scene by storm.
The themes, generally speaking, cover the troubling progression to a more stable life as a man (he’s in his mid 20s): the tale he told of an unrequited teenage love was hilarious.
He delivers songs hacked from gritty mountainsides, but in a hugely contemporary style with the classic echoes of The Carter Family and Waylon Jennings never far from the surface.
Lyrically, he is superb. On the album’s title track, he sings: “High on the hill where the fox horns blow / And down in the grave where they lay me low / Catholic girl, pray for me / You’re my only hope for Heaven.”
On Honky Tonk Flame, one of the blistering standouts on the album, he finds he has what he’s always wanted: “I got me a woman with a love so true / Darlin’ to me but that’s missus to you / All I did was slow down and quit actin’ insane / Burnin’ my barn in this honky tonk flame.”
He’s a no messin’ kind of guy and teaming up with him again soon would not be hard to bear.
Review – MIKE RITCHIE