Reviewed by Harry Kaplan
As soon as you hear the singing, you will notice a similarity in signing style and voice to a legend. The comparison is undeniable and striking. OK, enough of the suspense, Colter Wall sounds a lot like The Man In Black Johnny Cash. So much so on some songs it is uncanny. Wall is not a cover act at all. In fact he is a young, vibrant artist that has the makings of a legend. Too early to give him that moniker, but I hear elements of greatness. The next step is longevity and the ability to navigate through years of touring and recording. That is the unknown, but the talent is clearly there.
Colter Wall is 21 years old. On the surface that does not sound like anything astounding until you hear him sing. Then, it is almost unbelievable that that sound and writing can come from a 21 year old. The voice and expression sound as if it comes from a seasoned 45 or 50 year old. It should come from an older, wiser, more worldly curmudgeon, not a 21 year old kid. The voice and writing are nothing that I could have even come close to replicating when I was 21. Wall’s vision and execution are amazing.
If you have ever uttered the words, “They don’t make artists like Johnny Cash anymore”, then give Thirteen Silver Dollars (Track 1) a view and listen. You will retract those words like I did. Again, it is too early to say that the baton was passed, but it sure is promising. Colter Wall is not Johnny Cash, but he plays a style of music and has a sound that channels the souls of Johnny, Merle and Waylon. If that doesn’t give you some hope that country music is alive and well, maybe you need a pulse check.
That deep voice is so soothing and tuneful that I can listen to it all day and all night. It is also incredibly unique that someone can sing so low and still be incredibly harmonic. But it appears Wall can do it all. Codeine Dream (Track 2) is the perfect example of such a song. This is a song about recovery and making it through the horrible experience of addiction. Wall sings about the pressures and stimuli in life that can lead to over indulgence, but he ends each verse with the very prophetic line, “I don’t dream of you anymore.”
Motorcycle (Track 4) is a song that is so damn good, professionally written, and so insightful that it is still incomprehensible that a 21 year old wrote this song. This is a tongue and cheek song about buying a motorcycle and wrapping it around a telephone pole or crashing off the side of a mountain. My guess is that Colter is not really interested in buying or riding a motorcycle. The theme really explores any high risk behavior and why we engage in such activities. There is a tremendous amount of sarcasm and irony on this track that is dished out in a way you don’t know you are even taking it in like a master chef disguising ingredients.
As the year continues, the releases seem to get stronger and more vital. This is definitely one of those releases and could be a game changer for country music. It certainly is a game changer for me and should be for you as well. Just give it a listen and then buy this baby.