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Tim Hus

Western Star – 2013 (Stony Plain)

Reviewed by Dustin Blumhagen

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CDs by Tim Hus

Tim Hus is a hard touring Canadian country artist, whose music consists of stories put to song. He is the protegé of Canadian country legend Stompin' Tom Connors, who penned the universally loved unofficial Canadian national anthem, The Hockey Song. He sings catchy songs that are fun to sing along with in his recognizable nasally twang. He spends his life on the road, playing every venue available from coast to coast and collecting stories as he travels.

The cover of the latest release from Hus, "Western Star" features the scruffy singer smiling his affective smile in a fur coat that is guaranteed to enrage PETA. He starts things off with a trucking song, follows it with a fishing song and then a song about pheasant hunting. This is definitely not radio friendly country music. It would more nicely fit into the roots category with similar artists like fellow Albertan Corb Lund. There is plenty of Dobro and fiddle, which give this a distinctly old timey feel, without delving too far into bluegrass. The Church of Country Music is an ode to traditional music, with a solid bass backbeat built for two dancing in the local saloon.

Instead of singing a pile of vague songs about drinking and love, Hus focuses on relating to the average person. There are songs about fruit picking in British Columbia (Hardcore Apple Picker), an east coast sailor song (the haunting Forgotten Sailor) and a great tune about coal miners (Marietta Miner), which brings to mind the late Waylon Jennings. He tackles western swing on Short Go Shuffle, an amusing cautionary tale about falling in love with a barrel racer. The album closes with the pretty Wild Rose Waltz, a song that brings to mind small town dances, which references Alberta, but could just as easily apply to rural Wyoming or Texas. It celebrates Saturday nights when the rural community gets together and shares love and laughter in a way that only rural communities can. These are songs that straddle the line between folk storytellers like Ian Tyson or Michael Martin Murphey and roots revival artists like Old Crow Medicine Show.

While Hus peppers his music with lots of very specific references (Ponoka Stampede, fruit picking in the Okanagan Valley), it doesn't lessen the music for those not familiar with the allusions. This is an album of classic country music, which brings in plenty of cowboy roots influences. They are songs written for people living in rural North America that celebrate the beauty of a fading way of life.