Corb Lund Reflects on the Last Two Years, Celebrates Release of ‘Songs My Friends Wrote’
The last two years have been anything but quiet for Corb Lund.
Though the pandemic brought the country singer-songwriter a rare break from being on the road, he also began the break with the release of a brand-new studio album, Agricultural Tragic. While at first it seemed like a terrible time to release new music—the LP came out on April 24, 2020, a time when the world barely understood what was happening — Lund recognizes it may have been the exact right time.
"I guess you could make the argument that the record was extra important because of what was happening," he admits in an interview with Taste of Country. "Maybe the strange way it came out gave people more time to listen to it. But, I don't know. Who knows?"
Lund is reminiscing about that release while driving through Utah on his first tour in two years.
"It's all mixed emotions for me," he says, "because we put out Agricultural Tragic in 2020 but we weren't able to tour that thing at all. I've been touring and making music since I was in high school, going at it hard. But, really, it was kind of cool to press pause."
Pressing pause didn't mean slowing down, though. Lund worked on his guitar technique, refined his voice and created new music. Nearly two years exactly after the release of Agricultural Tragic, Lund is releasing his latest studio album, Songs My Friends Wrote, a 10-song collection of covers from his country music peers, on Friday (April 29).
"I've been talking about doing this for years," Lund says. "I've been meaning to do it forever, and COVID finally gave me a chance to do it. All the people on the album are buddies and they're all really, really great songwriters."
Lund spent the last two years creating this new record, but he's also been, as he puts it, "up to my neck in writing my own record." But he wasn't ready to release another original LP.
"I knew we could get this one together relatively quickly since the songs were already there," he explains. "We had the opportunity to go into the studio and figured it'd serve as a good bridge between Agricultural Tragic and the next one of originals. I wasn't ready to record my own stuff so this was perfect timing, and like I said, I've been meaning to do it for years."
As the concept of Songs My Friends Wrote has been something Lund has contemplated for quite some time, he's quick to say there may be more similar releases in the future.
"I want to make a Volume 2 and Volume 3," Lund says. "There are a ton of artists that I didn't have room for on this one — and I have a pretty long list. I had to do some decision-making on this album, but next time I have some downtime, hopefully I'll do another one."
Songs My Friends Wrote features songs by Hayes Carll, Geoff Berner, Ian Tysoon, Tom Russell, John Evans, Fred Eaglesmith, Mike Plume and Todd Snider. Sometimes Lund did his best to stay true to the original, but other times, he and his band put their own spin on the song.
"I've been playing about half of these songs live for years and the other half I've been playing just on my own," he says. "A couple of them, the arrangements are really different. I like the Fred Eaglesmith song ["Spookin' the Horses"] because we made that into kind of a soul number. You should put it next to the original, side-by-side; it's pretty interesting. And "Montana Waltz" [by Ian Tysoon], that song is a beauty. It's an obscure one."
As Lund celebrates the release of Songs My Friends Wrote and tours both this record and Agricultural Tragic, he's also continuing to work on his next release. Among many other things, the last two years provided him a unique opportunity to approach writing a record differently than he is used to.
"Normally, I write the lyrics and chords first and come up with the interesting musical parts later," he describes, "but this time, I have stacks of musical chunks and riffs that I kind of have to piece together into songs and then put lyrics to them, like a jigsaw puzzle. It's the reverse approach to my normal method, but it's cool to mix it up."
As for the sound, Lund describes it as an aggressive acoustic album, similar to Steve Earle's Train a Comin'.
"I'm in the middle of all of it right now," he says. "I've been trying stuff out, seeing what comes together. After 10 records, I'm always trying to find interesting ways to keep it fresh."