Canadian country singer Corb Lund’s sixth studio album, Cabin Fever, hardly feels claustrophobic, but the title’s point is well taken. On an album of open plains and free ranges, of limitless driving and pastoral roaming, freedom has never felt more lonesome.
Cabin Fever has enough filler, but a 12-track record can benefit from a few drinking songs. Still, some of the more offbeat numbers don’t work. “The Gothest Girl I Can” isn’t so much a counterweight to the rest of Cabin Fever’s pastoral fantasy/nightmare as much as it’s a jarring, almost off-putting aside. The rest of the album, though, tells a well-strung, poignant story about wanting what you can’t have, being stuck in a cabin dreaming of limitless land, and being careful what you wish for.
“Living in town sometimes brings me down,” Lund sings on “Cows Around”, his convincing double-edged ode to man’s second best friend. Cabin Fever finds Lund looking out towards the plain for salvation, only when he’s able hit the road in “Bible On The Dash” or nurse a summer romance in “September,” there’s a sad realization: The open country has created as many problems as it’s solved. In the former, a comical duet with pal Hayes Carll, freedom to travel only means freedom to get caught by the authorities. The latter, “September”, is the heartbreaking tale of an old man and a young woman, of country and city, summer and fall.
The old man who lives among “1000 acres in the Rocky Mountains” in “September”, the lead single and central focus of Cabin Fever, which might as well be called Cabin Dreams, pleads for his lover to stay a little longer. He knows he doesn’t have a strong argument. He knows winter in the country is cold, that there’s more for a young woman in the city, but he can’t resign himself to his losing plea. The country saved him a long time ago, and he can’t help but hope it can save someone else, even if only eventually. The overall effect of Cabin Fever is similar: It dreams big and hopes for the best, but it leaves you feeling high and lonesome, alone but for the cows.
Essential Tracks: “September”, “Bible On The Dash”