I spent the weekend driving through the Albertan prairie. The head-on hurtle of Highway 2 is a corridor through expansive fields: I watched an imposing thunderstorm fill the horizon, bruising the sky as it approached the frontier of the setting sun. This province is an expanse of empty space, a clean slate of potential. At all times, it is ruled by the tension between the garrison and the promise of easy money — the black gold rush to the north bleeds its wildness into the cities and towns. This is the remnant of the old west, the borderland between ruin and fortune, wilderness and civilization.
This is a space that Calgary’s “The Bitterweed Draw” occupies wholly. They embrace the spirit of the old west, and in doing so address and describe the spirit of the new. This is not the country music of the radio, that formulaic, cliche-heavy, meaningless Americana shit. This is the country music of loud, dirty bars, of fistfuls of cash, of freedom of movement, of economic progression. This is the whirlwind of the last good night in town before you go back to work, and it is the harshness of the next morning. This is the sound of the mountains in the rear-view mirror, the wide prairie before you. Most importantly, this is a home-grown iteration of Albertan society — this is the folk music of this new frontier, the balance of country sensibility and Albertan value, background-barroom rock and bluegrass structure. The next time you open up on the highway, turn this album up loud.