When I think of the future of country music outside of the formulaic cookie-cutter stuff that currently rules the 21st-century airwaves, a few individuals come to mind that give me hope for the continued vibrant growth of the genre. At the top of my list of male performers are Kentucky native Tyler Childers, Oklahoma native Zach Bryan, Texas native Charley Crockett, and the subject of this review, Idaho native Colby Acuff.
While their styles are diverse, the one common thread between them is that you can hear the history of the music in their voices and songs that you don’t often hear on mainstream radio.
This is on full display in the case of Acuff with his latest release Western White Pines (Deluxe Edition) which is actually a rerelease of the original album of the same name that was released back in June of this year. Acuff adds six songs to a record that was already a sterling example of why he is one of the best up-and-coming singer/songwriters in the genre and makes an even stronger case for why it should be considered one of the best albums of 2023.
Particular highlights of this dynamic and passionate collection of sixteen tunes include the titular track “Western White Pines,” “One Day At a Time,” “Playing God Again,” “Outlaw In Me,” Hard Livin’ Life,”“Welcome To Tom’s,” “Movin’,” and “Ain’t No Time To Die.”
Acuff demonstrates on this album that he is a master storyteller and troubadour in the grandest sense of those terms. His songs are an inimitable and spirited combination of honky tonk, bluegrass, and folk that he puts his indelible stamp on.