Colby Acuff, Western White Pines Review
Colby Acuff’s “Western White Pines”: A Return to Country’s Wild Roots
by John Gaddis
In a time when mainstream country music seems to have strayed from its origins, Colby Acuff’s Western White Pines is a potent reminder of the genre’s raw and rugged roots. This Sony Music Nashville is an unfiltered expression of Acuff’s Idahoan heritage and a tribute to the wild landscapes that shaped him.
Hailing from Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, self-taught musician Acuff infuses his music with a rugged spirit true to his mountain home. His ethos of self-reliance is exemplified in his words, “If you wanna do something right, you’ve gotta do it yourself,” and his debut album is a testament to this principle.
Western White Pines is a ten-track journey akin to a hike through the Idaho mountains—beautiful, challenging, and ultimately rewarding. The songs, predominantly penned by Acuff himself, brim with grit and authenticity, mirroring a life lived in harmony with the wilderness. These songs aren’t about adhering to typical genre tropes; instead, they paint a vivid picture of Acuff’s experiences and emotions. As Acuff asserts, “You will never hear the same song twice, but you will know that it’s a Colby Acuff record.”
The album commences with the titular track, “Western White Pines,” setting a tone of earthy authenticity throughout the album. Acuff’s vocal range is impressive, marked by a gritty tone and emotionally resonant delivery that captivates listeners.
Songs like “One Day at a Time” and “Outlaw in Me” showcase Acuff’s plainspoken vocals and incisive lyrics, blending into a distinct sound that’s as sturdy as Rocky Mountain granite. “One Day at a Time” exhibits his authentic country embellishments and an ability to delve into a buoyant country feel. “Outlaw in Me” sees him in his lower register, with a tone that’s rich and rugged, echoing the outlaw country tradition.
Other tracks, such as “Boy and a Bird Dog” and “Rollin’ With the Wind,” tap into a serene, introspective mood, offering listeners moments of tranquil reflection. “Boy and a Bird Dog” is a whimsical song, featuring Acuff’s melodic whistling over a traditional country shuffle. “Rollin’ With the Wind” reveals Acuff’s emotive balladry skills, brought to life with the simple accompaniment of an acoustic guitar and the crying tones of a pedal steel.
Eddie Spear’s production, renowned for his work with artists like Zach Bryan and Cody Jinks, enhances the authenticity of the album and expertly captures the nuances of Acuff’s vocal artistry. Recorded at Nashville’s esteemed Sound Emporium Studios, Western White Pines is a testament to the power of raw, heartfelt singing.
In conclusion, Western White Pines is a standout debut that firmly establishes Colby Acuff as a force to be reckoned with in the country music scene. It’s an album that defies modern genre conventions, choosing instead to chart its own course through the wilderness of authentic country music. Western White Pines is a must-listen album for those seeking country music that’s deeply rooted in authenticity and untamed spirit.