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For all the ink spent arguing over who’s more “country” these days, folks tend to forget that you can hear country music first in the voice. It needs to be a little bit sad, a little bit weary, a little bit wise, and there should be just the hint of a smile at the edges. This is the kind of voice you hear from bandleader, songwriter, and real-deal country singer TODD GREBE on his new album, CITIZEN, with his band COLD COUNTRY. As a songwriter, Grebe crafts songs that stick with you, and though his clever wordplay as a songwriter is a key element, it’s the rough sheen to his voice that makes this music so country and so beautiful. Grebe’s got a voice tinged with the dust of the American West and the grit of Southern living, the kind of voice that first made country music great.
 
Todd Grebe & Cold Country are based out of the wilds of Alaska, where for years they ruled the bluegrass scene in this state. Todd’s wife and musical partner, Angela Oudean, was a key member of famed Alaska bluegrass band Bearfoot for years (Todd joined Bearfoot as well), and though it may be a surprise to some that the music they make now is hard-driving, electrified honky-tonk at its core, the truth is that there’s a strong current that unites bluegrass and country. Like songs written about real people with real problems, or songs celebrating the simple victories of life with a sardonic sense of humor. You’ll hear this on Citizen, and you’ll hear that Grebe has a powerfully directed voice as a songwriter. He’s able to capture a moment effortlessly, turning it into a larger commentary on people we all recognize. In “Box of Wine,” Grebe winkingly sings 
about a lover who’s “all fired up on a box of wine,” and on “Criminal Style,” he sings about loving a person so much that if they killed someone, they could call him up to find a place to hide the body (Michigan’s Lindsay Lou & The Flatbellys just covered this song on their new album). Though many of the songs on Citizen have a humorous element, others dip easily into poignancy, like “More Than a Love Song,” or “Living a Lie.”
 
Todd Grebe & Cold Country rolled into The Butcher Shoppe studio in Nashville to work with Grammy-award winning recording engineer David Ferguson, famous for his work with Johnny Cash, and dove deep into a more electrified country sound. Cold Country alum NATE MAY traded in his mandolin for a telecaster, and LARRY ATAMANUIK (Alison Krauss) jumped on the drums. Bassist MIKE BUB (Del McCoury, Ashley Monroe) came on to co-produce the album and play bass, and special guests were invited, like pedal steel wizard Steve Hinson (George Jones), renowned Nashville session pianist Jimmy Wallace, and guitarist Megan McCormick (Jenny Lewis). Todd and Angela led the parade, trading off harmonies on the songs, and bringing Angela’s hard-driving fiddle to the fore.
 
With CitizenTodd Grebe & Cold Country make the case that they’ve always belonged as a heavy-rolling honky-tonk band. Country was the key to their bluegrass from the start, and that’s why they were able to switch over so effortlessly.  Now it’s clear that Todd Grebe & Cold Country are ready to take the dancehalls by storm.