Web Exclusive! Review of the Day ? Cowboy Junkies: At the End of Paths Taken

Twenty years ago, the Cowboy Junkies convened in an empty, cavernous Toronto's Holy Trinity church to work on the Trinity Session, a stark, haunted collection of whispered folk and dimly lit rock that sent a chill through everybody that heard it. Ever since then, the group has been trying, with varying degrees of success, to recapture the magic.
Author:
Publish date:



Cowboy Junkies

At the End of Paths Taken


Latent/Zoe (01143-1097-2A)

Grade: **

Twenty years ago, the Cowboy Junkies convened in an empty, cavernous

Toronto's Holy Trinity church to work on the Trinity Session, a stark,

haunted collection of whispered folk and dimly lit rock that sent a chill

through everybody that heard it. Deadened beats, Margo Timmins' ethereal

voice, lonely electric and acoustic guitar and bass that beat like a heart

made Trinity Session a seductive masterpiece that, to this day, still

demands your rapt attention, if only for the unsettling cover of the Velvet

Underground's "Sweet Jane."

And ever since then, the family Timmins, along with bassist Alan Anton, has

been trying, with varying degrees of success and failure, to recapture the

magic. Sadly, as their recording budgets have grown, the Cowboy Junkies'

music has steadily declined into an adult-contemporary blandness, Pale Sun,

Crescent Moon
being the glaring exception.

At the End of PathsTaken offers glimpses of the old Cowboy Junkies,

especially on "My Little Basquiat," a noir-ish, black pool of sunken cello,

coke-bottle percussion and deep, swirling currents of piano that beats Nick

Cave at his own game, and the meaty, distortion-fried, Zeppelin-esque rocker

"Cutting Board Blues."

But edgy it's not, and it leans so heavily on

large-scale, sweeping string arrangements that whatever melody was supposed

to run through "Follower 2" gets lost forever.

Then again, the faceless,

acoustic strumming of "Spiral Down" ? wait for the strings, useless and

unnecessary, to come in ? and "Still Lost" indicate that the Junkies have

become addicted to a formulaic brand of songwriting that's neither unique or

compelling.


At the End of Paths Taken
isn't a total disaster. There's still a

bittersweet quality to the Junkies' pop sensibilities that's always

endearing, and the strings are sometimes tastefully arranged and lovely to

admire.

But at this point, it wouldn't be a bad idea for the Junkies to

return to the church.

Weekly Showcase

The Loyal Seas - Band Photo - for Teaser page

THE LOYAL SEAS – Strange Mornings In The Garden

Tanya Donelly (Throwing Muses, Breeders, Belly) and Brian Sullivan (Dylan in the Movies) have teamed up as The Loyal Seas. Their debut 7" is limited to 500 copies and features two original songs on beautiful white vinyl. Available exclusively from American Laundromat Records.