ALL THAT RECKONING
Proper Records/Latent Recordings
Canadiacana Revisited (Songs for the heart and brain)
Is it really 30 years since I first heard Blue Moon Revisited (Song For Elvis) on the radio? Apparently so; as the album it came from, the imperial Trinity Sessions is celebrating it’s 30th Anniversary later this year.
It’s fair to say that album was not just a ‘Gateway’ to my listening pleasures, but also a pivotal album in my collection as it tipped all my previous thoughts on music into a muddy ditch and helped move me into a far more grown up world of music appreciation.
So; it was with a slight tightening in the chest and butterflies in my stomach that I first played this, their 13th (?) full length album.
Oh dear; I didn’t ‘get it’. Just like all those albums that followed PALE SUN, CRESCANT MOON, it was obviously the Cowboy Junkies with Margot’s exquisite vocals and Michael quietly dictating the sounds, but no…..I didn’t ‘get it’.
Then two weeks later I thought I’d give it another go on a flight to New York, so with eye mask on and headphones pressed tightly against my ears I thought ‘here goes’.
This proved to be the perfect setting; not a sunny back garden as I’d tried previously.
Even from the opening track All That Reckoning Pt1, you are faced with a sensory overload, and not just from Margot Timmins’ unmistakeable voice and the Cowboy Junkies trademarked Lo-Fi bass and guitar combo; but the stark lyrics come at you like the suns rays through a Summer fog;
“I took my heart and laid it on the floor/you took my heart and softly asked for more.”
Not just on this song, but on several others Michael Timmins employs what sounds like an Alt. Chamber Orchestra to compliment their normal ‘Rock’ instrumentation; which on The Things That We Do To Each Other and Wooden Stairs takes us into the ‘darkest of hearts territory’ normally associated with Leonard Cohen; and just like him leaves you smiling through pursed lips; such is the intensity and beauty that this band can create.
Speaking of intensity on Sing Me a Song, the band throw down the challenge flag to Alt. Rockers like Muse and even U2 with some searing guitar and a rhythm section steeped in the oil from a Corvettes sump, to create a song that will send a shiver down your spine.
The Cowboy Junkies can create a poetically atmospheric song like no other, in my humble opinion and with Nose Before Ear and Mountain Streams they challenge the listeners perceptions of what is and isn’t Rock music; and come out proving that they were and are correct and this listener came out educated and enthused by both; and just about everything else too.
Where to go for a Favourite Song’? Obviously there’s no Blue Moon Revisited or Cheap Is How I Feel here; why would there be? Those days are long gone; this is a hardback book not just an essay; these songs need to be listened to in isolation (as I did on that flight for 5 hours) but I will point you to The Possessed which closes the record; for it’s unclouded simplicity and Missing Children as examples of a band who stand on the Rock precipice writing and performing songs, so beautiful they will not just take your breath away but wonder where the concept came from; but I’m actually selecting Shining Teeth as my favourite; for all of those reasons and everything that went before; but the judicial use of an organ takes the song through a fairground and comes out at a funeral.
Perhaps their last half dozen albums passed me by because I wasn’t ready for them; as the Cowboy Junkies have always and still do tread their very own artistic path, with Michael Timmins not caring a jot for commercial success; but absolutely craving artistic success like an addict and he achieves those wild ambitions with every song on this wonderful creation.
Released July 13th 2018