11th Hour Artist Spotlight: Colter Wall

Colter Wall, like his troubadour hero Townes Van Zandt, is an anomaly. The Van Zandt’s were Texas royalty dating back to the Republic’s formation, Wall’s father is the Premier of Saskatchewan (sort of like a governor.) Both songwriters cast off the expectations and trappings of polite society to live hard and experience complete freedom– that nothin’-left-to-lose kind of freedom. There’s a sadness that Townes Van Zandt touched, a pain he inherited from mentors like Lightnin’ Hopkins, shared with contemporaries like Blaze Foley, and imparted to devotees like Steve Earle. Colter Wall has found that pain.

Imaginary Appalachia in 2015 introduced Colter Wall to the world. Don’t let the title mislead, though; all things imagined are doomed to come true. The surreal terrain of the EP feels more like North Mississippi Hill country, or the haunts and hollers of West Virginia. Indeed, Colter is far from his origins in Swift Current, Saskatchewan as he now calls Kentucky home. Songs like “The Devil Wears a Suit and Tie” and the cover of “Nothin’” are as full of Lightnin’ as they are of Townes,” while “Johnny Boy’s Bones” and “Ballad of A Law Abiding Citizen” chomp at the frontier bit. “Sleeping On The Blacktop” might be Colter’s best known song to date– a rebel rousing rager as rugged as the Canadian Shield, but that’s all about to change. A self titled, full length album produced by Georgia native Dave Cobb is set for a May 12th release.

Dave Cobb is the wizard behind the Americana curtain. He’s produced albums for Sturgill Simpson, Chris Stapleton, Jason Isbell, Shooter Jennings, Anderson East, Brent Cobb (yep, his cousin,) Corb Lund and more… Much more. Colter Wall’s new LP is as stark and open as the Saskatchewan praire, and his voice (a chunk of black coal freshly pick-axed) is lit only by his guitar, Dave Cobb, and pedal steel player Robby Turner.

Colter Wall recently performed at the Capitol Theatre here in Macon. His apparent frailty belies power… Colter’s not weak, he’s tired. His tour schedule reads like a cross-country UPS delivery route during Christmas, and then he goes to Europe. Once that guitar is struck, though, Colter’s world envelopes this one. It’s his autobiography in three chords, the self imposed exile, destruction, and fear. There’s hope there too, don’t worry. It’s just buried as deep as Colter’s register. Colter Wall, the new album, debuts May 12th.

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