Lay It Down

Cowboy Junkies

Geffen Records, 1996

REVIEW BY: Sean McCarthy


You wake with an initial wince. Your head throbs and your mouth is so dry that you are afraid that a Kleenex swap over your lips would cut them. You also find out why your stomach is so uneasy:there's a Hardees bag that is resting on your couch.

I've been there. I was there Tuesday. So I went into damage control mode. First, brew a pot of coffee. Second, take a hot shower. Finally, grab a paper and put in the Cowboy Junkies. Time will do the rest and pleasing results are usually the outcome.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The Cowboy Junkies have been around for about 15 years. With each album, they've made some slight deviations from their landmark The Trinity Sessions album. Bands such as U2, R.E.M. and Rush have been around longer and have reinvented themselves a couple of times in the process. But the Junkies seem content with their formula.

And their formula works. The makeup of two brothers and a sister makes you wonder how they've been able to put sibling rivalry behind and release some of the most consistantly beautiful albums tailor made for the somberist of moods.

"Q" magazine classified the band's music as, "new country combined with elements of blues". Lay It Down pretty much confirms the magazine's statement. The tempo is a notch up from Black Eyed Man and Pale Sun Crecent Moon. Still, it's no surprise that the cover of the album shows each band member wearing black. "The fire that burnt inside of me/Has turned to ash the tortured tree/That grows behind the anguished sea," Margo Timmins sings on "Speaking Confidentially". And that's one of the more upbeat songs on the album.

Credit the Junkies-at least they finally found a way to write a catchy pop sound that was theirs. They did that with "A Common Disaster". Guitarist Michael Timmins goes electric on this song, creating a groovy riff that's impossible to shake once you hear it.

As always, Margo Timmins is the reason to buy the album. She may be limited in her range but no female singer out there puts such a complex face on misery.

Are the Cowboy Junkies mood music? Yes. You either have to be working through a depression or be so happy that your psyche can handle the sadness in their songs. Lay It Down has just enough variety to make it stand out. Coincidentally, it's one of their best albums. And unlike Space Heater by The Reverend Horton Heat, it does make a difference if this album is in your player and not another Junkies album.


Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


© 1998 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 Geffen Records, and is used for informational purposes only.