IT DON’T REALLY MATTER ANYMORE, SELF-RELEASED
Edmontonian Jake Ian is “Alberta’s Country Road Troubadour” (it says so on his email signature) and he has him some troubles — his woman done him wrong, the government repossessed his farm, the only woman who ain’t done him wrong yet died and he’s been working this black soil for many a long year. This is a country album. There’s an actual, honest-to-God song about a tractor on this record.
Most songs employ the standard country palette of firearms and transportation, which is applicable just about anywhere on the land-mass, but there’s little here that feels Albertan. “Golden Ash,” the album’s one standout track, is a simple, sad song about stepping out for a pack of cigarettes that works because it’s relatable. But other songs don’t fare as well: “Bunkhouse Blues,” “Down the Drain,” “’68 Malibu” — even the titles are by-the-numbers.
For all its oil, farmland and fundamentalism, Alberta in the 21st century isn’t Texas in the 20th. It has its own reasons for the blues, but Jake Ian doesn’t engage with any of them. This criticism of him goes for the majority of the country genre right now — this all might have been relevant to people’s lives once, but the world country music talks about is gone and any attempt to recapture it falls into pastiche the moment you hit “record.” There’s a sad, strange world beyond the Albertan bigger-city limits that many Western Canadians have seen from highways but never touched. Put that on an album and I’ll listen.
By Gareth Watkins