With the exclusion this week of Colter Wall's self-titled debut from the Polaris Music Prize long list of 40 albums, the jurors of the national music prize have once again shown its indifference to country music and, to a lesser extent, the troubadour singer-songwriter.
Regardless of the Polaris snub, Wall, the Stetson-wearing son of Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall, is on the rise. He has been praised by Rolling Stone magazine for his wind-blown Prairie fare. And he has the endorsement of Steve Earle: "His songs are stunning. He's been listening to the right stuff, and he gets it." Young Wall sings with a ditch-deep voice in an age-old storytelling tradition.
Produced by Dave Cobb (who has worked with Sturgill Simpson, Chris Stapleton, Lindi Ortega and Corb Lund), Wall's threadbare disc is striking for its raw, throaty despair. "Some cruel nightly cycle," he sings on Codeine Dream, "leaves me cryin' on a motel floor." Tomorrow is another day, Wall knows. He persists.
Colter Wall plays Regina's Wascana Centre on July 1 and the Big Valley Jamboree in Camrose, Alta., on Aug. 4.