Many people remember the Cowboy Junkies best for 1988s The Trinity Session, its darkly elegant and thoughtful guitar musings casting a welcome shadow over the end of the decade. They’ve continued to record since then without maintaining the high profile they briefly enjoyed at the beginning of their career.
However, on the evidence of this – the third in what will eventually be a tetralogy of new material – like gravy they’ve browned, seasoned and thickened with age, weathered and creased very well. What’s more, with the addition of multi-instrumentalist Jeff Bird they’re a great deal more kick-ass, drawing inspiration from Miles Davis circa 1970, Beefheart and early Birthday Party, to cook up a raucous, introverted stew, “overdriven and thick with electricity”, as Michael Timmins puts it.
This is exemplified immediately on the blackened, funk fury of Continental Drift and the self-descriptive It’s Heavy Down Here, on which Margo Timmins’s vocals are assailed from all sides by instrumental noise. Sing In My Meadow features some mean dredgings of slide guitar, with the pace only letting up marginally on I Move On for clarity’s sake.
If it’s years, decades even, since you last heard the Junkies, get yourself a fix of this.