Cowboy Junkies are an alt-country band that originally formed in Toronto in the mid 1980’s. Their latest album, The Wilderness, is the fourth release in The Nomad Series, a collection of albums inspired by the paintings of Enrique Martinez Celaya. Cowboy Junkies sound mixes elements of rock, Americana, and psychedelia, and the overall effect is deeply ethereal.
“Idle tales” begins with Margo Timmins singing over a strummed acoustic guitar. As the song develops you get faint traces of melodies from a piano and electric guitar, but Timmins vocal stylings remains the focus. Her voice is somber, can be haunting at times, but still manages to show vulnerability. “Damaged From the Start” has a steady rock feel, and is one of the few tracks on the album, where Timmins’ vocals don’t overpower the rest of the band. “Fuck I Hate the Cold,” shows the more bluesy side of the band. Here the guitar, and Timmins have a more twangy, classic country sound, which blends well with the rock feel coming form the rhythm section.
One problem I have with this disc is the lack of variety in the structure of many of these songs. Vocals are always the focal point, and unfortunately for too much of the time the rest of the band is just providing background ambiance.
Overall, The Wilderness is a solid effort from a band that has spent the last twenty-five years in the trenches of the indie music scene, but if falls short of being a must listen.