On the redundantly titled Horse Soldier! Horse Soldier!, Corb Lund tackles historical subjects that still resonate with the sorts of sentiments that lead young men and women to live as tools of war: the desire to do something exciting that might make the world a better, or at least a safer, place.
Mixing mostly densely worded, literary folk and county-folk songs on his fifth CD, Lund, who stays busy on the rodeo and folk festival circuits, tells stories with timeless themes. The title song crosses hundreds of years and cultures, from the Cossacks to the dragoons to the American West, invoking cavalrymen who find themselves no match for rapid fire, trench warfare, and barbed wire and so look instead for a place in today’s Special Forces. “Student Visas” is a haunting song about soldiers working undercover in El Salvador and Nicaragua, where Hueys replaced horses and where one fourth-generation soldier realized that “there ain’t no fun in killin’ folk” anymore. Lund based the song on stories he heard from a crippled U.S. Army veteran from the Reagan era.
Not all of the songs involve horses or their mechanical equivalents. “Brother Brigham, Brother Young” is an intriguing story of Mormon sin and hoped-for redemption through avenging angels. “Lament for Lester Cousins” is a straightforward country song that tells the story of a wasted life turned around, then wasted again in revenge. There is a crisp purity to Lund’s voice, surrounded here by acoustic guitars, mandolin, fiddle, and accordion.
Lund grew up in Alberta, Canada, at the modern end of a century of family cowboys. Using details rather than generalities, he has returned romantic notions to reality. – Tom Geddie
Horse Soldier! Horse Soldier!
(Stony Plain Records)