Idaho native Colby Acuff writes music from the perspective of the Rockies. The deluxe expansion of his album further venerates the mountains and rivers he came from.
Listening to Colby Acuff’s music, for me, offers up a familiarity that I can’t shake. It makes sense. The artist hails from my neck of the woods, and his latest album is thick with references that hit close to home.
This fly-fishing-guide-turned-pro-musician takes the Western landscape and spins it into music that steps away from the cowboy genre and into something just as rugged. Where cowboy life leans heavily on Western mythology, however, Acuff leans into something more gritty and realistic.
His fourth album “Western White Pines (Deluxe)” embodies this ethos to the max. And last month, Acuff added six new songs to round out the album. It swings listeners through songs that roll like a rhythmic freight train through Idaho’s mountains.
Mostly upbeat and two-step worthy, songs like “Outlaw in Me” and “Ain’t No Time to Die” hit on the in-betweens of figuring out who you are when reaching out of the rebellious years into a deeper sort of adulthood. In talking to Acuff, his thoughts on this being a reflective album ring true. This isn’t a love album, per se, but it’s a loving tribute to home, the inner workings of life, and managing life, partying, and music on the road.
Take a listen, and read Acuff’s thoughts on the making of the album below.
Colby Acuff on “Western White Pines (Deluxe)”
H&B: Just out of curiosity, why add to an album rather than choosing to put those on the next album? Is it more thematic or how does that all come to be?
Colby Acuff: We were planning to release a 10-song album, and then we were thinking about maybe doing a six-song EP in the fall, and we would’ve just titled it A River Runs Through It. But I just really wanted them all together as a collection, so I decided to deluxe versus splitting them up.
How did “Western White Pines” come into existence?
I knew as soon as I had written the first song for it, and actually, the very first song I wrote for the entire project was a song that debuts on the deluxe album. It’s called Ain’t No Time To Die. Once I wrote that, it was kind of like, okay, this whole entire record is going to be reflective.
My life also changed so quickly with moving to Nashville, and I realized that I’m not going to live in Idaho anymore. So, I thought of the album as a reflective piece on my life about where I’m from, who I am, how I was raised, and the things that affect me on a day-to-day. I just wanted to be really transparent and make sure that the writing is exactly what I wanted to say.
This is my fourth record, and I just cannot tell you how much I love this album. I’m so emotionally connected to this record. It’s a huge piece of me.
Out of the album, do you have a few favorite songs or do you feel like there are certain songs that speak more to that kind of western ethos your music embodies?
The songs that really stick out to me are the ones I really like going back to from the record. Those would be Western My Pines and Outlaw in Me.
I love Through My Windowpane. From a writing perspective, I’m just really, really proud of that song. It’s short and sweet, but really, it’s a lyric song. As a writer, I think it’s some of my best work. And then I love Ain’t No Time to Die. I mean, that’s just a fun one. I really like Cherokee Rose as well. There really are plenty of songs on there that I truly loved and put my heart and soul into.
So much country comes from that southern or southeast part of the country, and to listen to someone who represents the West is special to me as a Montanan. How does it play for you?
Western music and all the cowboy stuff is great, but there’s a whole other side of country music that’s not from the Southeast and it’s not cowboy culture. You’ll find it in Montana and Idaho. There’s obviously cattle and ranching out there, but I’m from a lumber town. My background is blue-collar. Mostly everyone in the Silver Valley was into mining or logging when I grew up.
It’s rare to find songs with landscape in them, and obviously, that is embodied for you. Do you think that being in Nashville, being away from it, clarifies it in a way?
Yeah. You just start thinking of all the little things that you wouldn’t think of when you’re home. You’re trying to explain what it’s like back there to somebody who’s from Tennessee, let’s say, and it’s very difficult. That’s the stuff where you’re like, “Man, I really miss that part because I totally took it for granted.”
That kind of stuff starts to really unveil itself, and then that’s the stuff that you start to miss the most, and then that’s the stuff that starts bleeding into your writing.