Fourth generation Idahoan Colby Acuff was soaking up every minute of his AMERICANAFEST debut at Nashville’s EXIT/IN on Friday, Sept. 22.
Pointing out, waving at and even taking selfies with phones handed to him from the crowd were all regular occurrences during the jovial set that saw the artist span his entire catalog, including his recently released major label debut, Western White Pines.
With a gusto akin to a west coast Charles Wesley Godwin, Acuff sang about everything from hunting in the perspective of his trusty canine companion ('Boy and a Bird Dog') to sitting back and not trying to control everything ('Playing God Again') and doing what you love no matter what others think ('Outlaw In Me').
But it was the title track, 'Western White Pines', that stood out most with its picturesque imagery of returning to the wild unknown to clear his head. In many ways, the song is Acuff’s version of 'Take Me Home, Country Roads,' and one that has quickly vaulted to a fan-favorite.
The former fly-fishing-guide-turned-emerging-country artist also leaned heavily into cuts off his breakthrough 2021 record, If I Were The Devil, with the unabashed 'Dying Breed', reflective and tongue-in-cheek 'When I See You Again' and a set-closing rendition of the project’s title track.
A dark and foreshadowing tune, 'If I Were The Devil' depicts several hypothetical scenarios about how the devil can use the world as his playground, from being “in every schoolhouse lecturin' little boys and girls” to having “everyone so medicated, they could never see”, ultimately complying with their own demise.
This week, Acuff will embark on a run of shows with Paul Cauthen leading up to a Dec. 16 show in Las Vegas supporting Lainey Wilson. The stages will only grow bigger and brighter in 2024, with the artist set to appear at several stadium shows with country superstar Luke Combs.
Taken from his live performance at EXIT/IN in Nashville, Tennessee on Friday, September 22nd, 2023.
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All photos by Laura Ord