One Soul Now

Cowboy Junkies

Zoe/Latent Recordings, 2004

REVIEW BY: Sean McCarthy


Yeah, it's another Cowboy Junkies release. Got a problem with that?

The Cowboy Junkies don't perform any left-field artistic detours or harden their sound or strip their sound down on their tenth album, One Soul Now. Listen to their first release, The Trinity Sessions and follow the band up to One Soul Now and you'll hear a band that has slowly changed its sound so subtlety, many casual fans will find be hard-pressed to differentiate one Junkies album from another. Their evolution is similar to that of a river or a lake - you don't see the change unless you take a snapshot and return to the same site five or ten years later.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

One Soul Now's title track starts with a Margo Timmins' voice going into a funky, laid back groove, but the song really kicks into gear midway through when Micahel Timmins' lays a guitar riff that is as expansive as a desolate country highway. Michael Timmins' guitar work is blusier than on their last release, Open. He also remains one of the most underrated songwriters in rock. However, some of the songs have their inconsistencies; a lyric bordering on cliché is followed by a zinger, as in the song "Why This One": "Strange and odd, twisted as a contradiction / A glittering jewel of flaws and celebration."

Like Open and Miles From Our Home and even their most radically-diverse album, Pale Sun, Crescent Moon, One Soul Now has a few notable Cowboy Junkies mainstays: a poppy song that is just accessible enough to be heard on adult contemporary radio or as overhead music in a Von Maur clothing store ("Stars of Our Stars"), Jesus imagery ("Simon Keeper", "The Slide") and a much-needed rave-up to break up the "sameness" of their slower songs ("No Long Journey Home"). If you are a critic with no understanding of the Cowboy Junkies, you may dismiss this as being formulaic. If you're a fan, it's the mark consistency.

The Cowboy Junkies have not released an artistic failure since 1988. They have also not undertaken major artistic risks (other than the risky jump to their own label, Latent Recordings). But musically, the Cowboy Junkies are one of the savviest bands in rock. By shunning major-level promotions, the band is free to record their albums with very little outside pressure. Their devoted following practically guarantees sellouts in small venues.

One Soul Now is a worthy purchase, albeit a less essential purchase than The Trinity Sessions, Pale Sun, Crescent Moon or Open. And much like Pale Sun… and Open, the album gradually reveals itself with repeat listens. Those keeping score -- the Cowboy Junkies stand at an undefeated 10-0 on their albums. Most bands would kill for that record.

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2004 Sean McCarthy and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Zoe/Latent Recordings, and is used for informational purposes only.