Todd Grebe is based in Alaska, but on his latest release, he has one foot in West Texas, and another in Bakersfield. "Citizen" is a pleasant work of storytelling in the country vein. Grebe has a distinct voice, well suited for the genre; it's weary and wary, but hopeful. Those looking for the next faux-country anthem are advised to go elsewhere. All others are welcome.
There's a sense of humor to this collection, as well. Grebe offers advice on storing a dead body ("Criminal Style") living in the land of the free ("Citizen"), living with loss ("Nothing To Lose") and living large ("Box of Wine"). To cover all bases, Grebe and Cold Country serve up a future holiday favorite, "Let's Make Love For Christmas" ("I'll wrap you up and you can wrap me").
Grebe can be wordy, and his phrasing sometimes gets in the way of a decent tune, but on balance, this collection is solid country & western music. Recorded in Nashville, with David Ferguson running the mix, and co-produced by Mike Bub of the Del McCoury Band, there's a lot to like here. Grebe brought in some stellar session musicians, including Jimmy Wallace on piano. Steve Hinson plays steel guitar on most cuts with a singular tone that holds the whole thing together. It's worth a listen just to peek in on Hinson's licks. Grebe and his wife, Angela Oudean, carry the lead vocals and harmonies with style and honesty.