Driving 305 miles today — OKC, Pawhuska, Tulsa, OKC — gave me time to catch up on some albums that been stacking up. In the process I discovered one of my favorite records of the year.
A few weeks ago a work colleague told me about Colter Wall. It seems the music industry has been buzzing about his full-length debut. Steve Earle, who’s not an easy sell, said Walls’ songs are “stunning.” Lucinda Williams invited him to open for her at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. His album was produced by Dave Cobb, whose touch can be found on albums by Jason Isbell and Sturgill Simpson, among others.
Only 21 years old, Wall’s debut — like those of John Fullbright and Ryan Bingham — has the worn leather and wisdom of an old soul. Wall’s voice will get compared to a young Johnny Cash’s, and that’s understandable. But whereas Cash pulled from the early traditions of the Carter Family, Wall grew up in Canada on Townes Van Zandt, Black Sabbath and John Steinbeck. In shows in the stories and the pictures.
If Americana and alternative country need an envoy for 2017, this is the man.