Archive for the ‘Cowboy Junkies’ Tag

Lynn Jackson Follow That Fire review   1 comment

Lynn Jackson

Lynn Jackson Follow That Fire Busted Flat Records

Every province, state, city, and area has them—the singer or guitar player that everyone loves and respects, but who strikes a collective shoulder-shrug outside their home range. Pay attention, then.

I had never heard of Lynn Jackson before encountering the previous Songs of Rain, Snow, and Remembering a couple autumns ago. The Ontario-based singer-guitarist is very good, and Follow That Fire is her ninth album over the course of two decades. In 2015, I compared her to the likes of Mary Chapin Carpenter and Lynn Miles, and those remain fair, in my way of thinking. Like those songwriters, Jackson gets to the core of the heart fair quickly.

Produced this time by Michael Timmins (a new Cowboy Junkies album would be welcome any time, by the way) Jackson sounds subdued across that album’s three-quarters of an hour, holding her cards close as she shares these song.

Still, there is a hint of playfulness in the way she approaches “Mystery Novels, Short Stories, and Car Songs,” bringing to mind another Timmins sibling, an effect one suspects is deliberately repeated on the closing “No Regrets.” Obviously a narrative songwriter, Jackson’s “Alice” may be the saddest song I’ve heard all year, filled with hope and ache, betrayal and murder. Jayzus, it might not work as a bluegrass song, but I would love to hear Dale Ann Bradley give it a try. As it is, Jackson’s (sounds like) finger-picking gives the song all the atmosphere it needs.

Skydigger Josh Finlayson (bass) and Cowboy Junkie Peter Timmins (drums) form the rhythm section, and combined with Michael Timmins’ production choices, a most compelling and consistent ambiance is created. Andy Maize (The Skydiggers) joins Jackson on “Meet Me In The City,” in a better world a song that would be heard on every country, rock, and pop station across the country. “Meet me in the city for one last go ’round,” she sings. “We’ll take all the time you need” is revised to “I’ll take all the time I need” by song’s end. Another radio-friendly (in an alternate time, perhaps) number is “Tossing & Turning,” a soulful little song about a love that should know better.

Aaron Goldstein’s pedal steel works nicely in concert with Aaron Comeau’s keys (“Night Comes Down,” “Ghosts”) throughout the set. Inspired by the loss of a friend, one of the more introspective numbers is “Random Breakdowns, False Starts, & New Beginnings.” approach.

I know I meant to search out previous Lynn Jackson albums last time I reviewed her. Follow That Fire is a reminder that I need to get onto that project. The rest of the country needs to start paying more attention, too. Damn, she’s good. Great songs, great voice, inspired production: get this one. Fingers crossed: this is Lynn Jackson’s Car Wheels on a Gravel Road.


Polaris Music Prize Long List 2012   Leave a comment

Announced ealier today, and I am pretty excited. If memory serves, I’ve never before helped three albums make the list.

From the Polaris site

“The 2012 Polaris Music Prize Long List is (in alphabetical order):

A Tribe Called Red – A Tribe Called Red
Marie-Pierre Arthur – Aux alentours
Rich Aucoin – We’re All Dying To Live
Avec pas d’casque – Astronomie
Azari & III – Azari & III
Bahamas – Barchords
The Barr Brothers – The Barr Brothers
Blackie And The Rodeo Kings – Kings And Queens
Cadence Weapon – Hope In Dirt City
Kathryn Calder – Bright And Vivid
Cannon Bros – Firecracker / Cloudglow
Coeur de pirate – Blonde
Leonard Cohen – Old Ideas
Cold Specks – I Predict A Graceful Expulsion
Rose Cousins – We Have Made A Spark
Mark Davis – Eliminate The Toxins
Drake – Take Care
Kathleen Edwards – Voyageur
Feist – Metals
Fucked Up – David Comes To Life
Great Lake Swimmers – New Wild Everywhere
Grimes – Visions
Handsome Furs – Sound Kapital
Japandroids – Celebration Rock
Dan Mangan – Oh Fortune
Mares Of Thrace – The Pilgrimage
Ariane Moffatt – MA
Lindi Ortega – Little Red Boots
Parlovr – Kook Soul
Sandro Perri – Impossible Spaces
Joel Plaskett Emergency – Scrappy Happiness
PS I Love You – Death Dreams
John K. Samson – Provincial
Shooting Guns – Born To Deal In Magic: 1952-1976
The Slakadeliqs – The Other Side of Tomorrow
Patrick Watson – Adventures In Your Own Backyard
Bry Webb – Provider
The Weeknd – Echoes of Silence
Yamantaka // Sonic Titan – YT//ST
Yukon Blonde – Tiger Talk

The 200+ writers, editors, producers and media figures who make up the Polaris Music Prize jury pool will now go back to the ballot boxes again and submit their Top 5 albums, selecting only from what’s on the Long List.

When those votes are in, the Short List comprised of 10 albums will be announced in Toronto on July 17.

Once that’s done it’s on to the big show, the Polaris Gala, being held in Toronto on September 24, where one of the 10 Short List albums will be declared the best Canadian album of 2012 in a secret jury Hunger Games-style argument to the death.”

My Top 5 ballot had a roots focus, as it should, and was published earlier this month in the Red Deer Advocate. I’m pleased that my number 1, 3, and 4 picks made the Long List, as well as two other albums I championed- Rose Cousins’ and John K. Samson’s. I am surprised that the Mark Davis album made it simply because it is one of those ‘under the radar’ releases. As well, I’m surprised BARK made it as the album didn’t seem to generate much buzz amongst the jury members online. I really thought the Cowboy Junkies would have made it, but…such is democracy.

Mark Davis- Eliminate the Toxins Capturing a selection of sounds even more adventurous than created within his previous releases, Davis retains the intense focus and introspection one has come to expect from the Edmonton singer-songwriter. Eliminate the Toxins stands with his best work, and as such can be appreciated on a poetic level while also serving as impetus to slowly dance. Multi-layered, Eliminate the Toxins is so all-encompassing that listeners will find themselves sinking into its warmth. It will take top spot on my ballot.

Cowboy Junkies- The Wilderness Having celebrated 25 years as one of Canada’s most dynamic recording groups, Cowboy Junkies embarked on an ambitious campaign 18 months ago: release four distinct albums within a year and a half. The Wilderness is certainly the strongest of the four. Closest to the ‘classic’ Cowboy Junkies sound, Margo Timmins’ languid vocals and delicately complex, occasionally trippy backing tracks are immediately recognizable. One tranquil song effortlessly slips into the next with little but contributions of visiting musicians distinguishing one from another. This consistency in sound makes The Wilderness appealing: nothing jars the listener out of the inviting, profound sound-space the band has created.

Blackie & the Rodeo Kings- Kings & Queens As far-reaching as Kings & Queens is, producer Colin Linden and his cohorts never lose perspective while singing with fourteen different ladies, among them Emmylou Harris, Lucinda Williams, Serena Ryder, and Rosanne Cash. Their contributions bring even greater focus to Lindsn’s, Tom Wilson’s and Stephen Fearing’s singing, and it is this ability to maintain balance that serves as Blackie & the Rodeo Kings’ greatest accomplishment.

Great Lake Swimmers- New Wild Everywhere That rare album that is comprised of thirteen songs with each as strong as those surrounding it: every song stands on its own as a memorable and engaging composition while being all the better because of its place within the greater album. New Wild Everywhere is elaborate. Tony Dekker and Great Lake Swimmers have created an album that is lush and rich. Miranda Mulholland’s background vocal contributions are astounding, adding a depth to the songs that is impressive. Similarly, Erik Arnesen’s guitar and banjo sounds create a lovely and complementary backdrop for Dekker’s words and vocals.

Skydiggers- Northern Shore Lovely songs that are fully realized with beautiful production, gorgeous, uplifting vocals, and a seemingly random mix of sounds that keeps one listening, Especially on shuffle, you can’t be sure what is coming next: a stark aching ballad, a mishmash of strangely musical beats and electronic burps, something piano based that slowly evolves,
a bit of bombast, a choice Mickey Newbury cover, or a sweeping piece that- for three or four minutes- makes the darkness that surrounds us disappear. I’m no expert on the Skydiggers- I only have the The Truth About Us compilation on the shelf- but this recently released album sneaks into my top 5, at the expense of John K. Samson’s Provincial, Fred Eaglesmith’s 6 Volts, or Rose Cousins’ We Have Made a Spark, three albums I also really loved.

Cowboy Junkies- The Wilderness   Leave a comment

Cowboy Junkies The Wilderness: The Nomad Series Volume 4 Latent

Having celebrated 25 years as one of the country’s most dynamic recording groups, Cowboy Junkies embarked on an ambitious campaign 18 months ago: release four distinct albums within a year and a half. Starting with the exquisite Renmin Park in late 2010, the seminal Canadian outfit have since released a tribute to Vince Chesnutt (Demons) to rave reviews and a set of dark, heavy sounds (Sing in My Meadow) that was remarkably diverse.

The Wilderness may be the strongest album of the four. Certainly it is closest to the ‘classic’ Cowboy Junkies sound: languid vocals from Margo Timmins and delicately complex, occasionally trippy backing tracks that are immediately recognizable as coming from the Ontario-based collective.

The liner notes tell us- if the album title wasn’t enough of a clue- that these songs are about those elements that bind us within their isolation: loneliness, loss, chance, desperation, fragile hopes and elusive beauty. The basic stuff of singer-songwriter efforts since the days of traveling troubadours, then.

One tranquil song effortlessly slips into the next with little but the contribution of visiting guests such as Jeff Bird (mandolins), Joby Baker and Jesse O’Brien (keyboards), and Miranda Mulholland (violin) distinguishing one from another. This consistency in sound is what makes The Wilderness so appealing: nothing jars the listener out of the inviting and profound sound-space the band has created.

By my count, The Wilderness is Cowboy Junkies 15th album of new material. It easily ranks with their greatest recordings such as Lay It Down, Black Eyed Man, and Open.

Originally published in the Red Deer Advocate March 16, 2012

Stan Rogers and Cowboy Junkies reviews & giveaway   Leave a comment

In today’s edition of the Red Deer Advocate, I feature reviews of two Canadian roots music albums. The Very Best of Stan Rogers has just been re-released through Borealis and the Cowboy Junkies released the second album of their Nomad series Demons, an album of Vic Chesnutt songs. Neither will appeal to everyone, but such is the nature of music- it would be awful if everyone enjoyed the same sounds.

Originally published in my Roots Music column in the Red Deer Advocate, March 4, 2011

Stan Rogers The Very Best of Stan Rogers Fogarty’s Cove/Borealis

What more needs to be written about Stan Rogers?

Almost thirty years after his tragic death- and in no small part because of it- Rogers casts a formidable shadow over the Canadian folk world.

That deep, melodious voice and magnanimous spirit, illuminating the tales of our country in a way that perhaps no one has done since, are distilled within this collection to 16 songs.

Originally released a year ago, The Very Best of Stan Rogers has been reintroduced to the marketplace with stronger distribution. While Rogers’ few studio albums are best served as complete visions, it would be a fool’s errand to challenge the efficacy of this set.

With remastering of his five albums undertaken, this set of serves as a concise introduction to what some have called the most influential folk songs written in and about Canada.

The familiar tunes are accounted here, from the epic- Northwest Passage and The Mary Ellen Carter- to the timeless- Forty-Five Years and The Idiot– and onto the legendary- Barrett’s Privateers. The Field Behind the Plow, as detailed and stirring accounting of farm life as has been written, is included as are perhaps less familiar tunes such as The Last Watch and Lies.

Rogers knew our country, its people, and their habits. The farmer’s wife who “pours a cup of coffee, drips Carnation from the can” is as vital to Rogers’ Canada as are the crew who vow to raise a ship from her depths, and workers battling redundancy.

With more than forty other Rogers’ songs to explore, The Very Best of Stan Rogers is but a starting place. Mind you, a very good starting place.

Cowboy Junkies Demons Latent Recordings

Let no one accuse Cowboy Junkies of resting on their laurels. Demons, the second of the four album Nomad series, is comprised entirely of songs written by Vic Chesnutt.

Chesnutt’s songs tend toward denseness- in mood and lyrical choices- and there is little Cowboy Junkies can do to minimize those constants. What they manage to do, through both Margo Timmins’ consistently beautiful vocals and the band’s focused distillation of Chesnutt’s vision, is recreate songs as original, aggressive pieces revealing Chesnutt’s gifts- something his own presentation often hindered.

Andy Maize (Skydiggers) lends his voice to a pair of tracks with other guests fleshing out the Junkies’ instrumental trio.

Demons stands as yet another dramatic and powerfully crafted album- one that relies less on individual songs than it does a consistent atmosphere- from one of Canada’s respected recording groups.

Since I purchased The Very Best of Stan Rogers last year when it was originally released, I have my review copy to give away. To win, leave a comment here at Fervor Coulee about your favourite Stan Rogers song or experience. I’ll do a random drawing in a week’s time; good luck. It’s gone.

Thanks for visiting Fervor Coulee. Donald

Walkin’ Talkin’ Dancin’ Singin’- August 16- 30, 2010   Leave a comment

For a variety of reasons, including back-to-school- start up, time escaped me a little this past week and I didn’t get around to posting the previous week’s listening. I had a friend gift me a box of 80s vinyl a couple weeks back and I’ve been working my way through that. Also, Megatunes has closed/is closing shop and I managed to get up to Edmonton for a mad, ten minute, 75% off buying spree last weekend as they were locking the doors a week ago Saturday; while I know there was undiscovered gold left on the shelves, I’ve accepted that I got off pretty good for $50. I just wish stores could stay in business! (I understand the employees of the Edmonton store have plans for a new enterprise which is promising.) As well, I’m trying to continue through the piles on the floor and have made some headway through the miscellaneous Bs scattered about.

As always, lots of listening- most of it roots but some of it just odd.

The album- or in this case e.p.- I most enjoyed this week

Joe Whyte- When the Day Breaks and Devil in the Details Another one of those singers that has to eventually find you because you don’t even know he exists. Joe is giving away his When the Day Breaks e.p. as a download and it is pretty amazing. His song “4th of July” is one for the ages, I think- a slo-fi piece of hometown blues. As I often do when I get something free, I end up spending more money and immediately downloaded the just as impressive Devil in the Details. A little Gaslight Anthem in there somewhere, a whole lot of downtown country soul. As they say, support the artists.

Jay Bennett- Whatever Happened I Apologize I only discovered Bennett and this album after he died. Exactly the kind of music I love exploring. The world is most obviously full of these types of guys- immensely talented and under recognized (yes, I get the Wilco thing). One week I might ‘discover’ Stephen Simmons, the next Matt Urmy, Jerry Castle, Joe Whyte, or someone else- Keeps one listening, I find.

Moving onto the Megatunes treasure trove…I haven’t listened to everything yet, but just for fun I’ll list everything:

Various Artists- The Imus Ranch Record Surprisingly disappointing collection of mostly pedestrian covers; only the John Hiatt reworking of The Bottle Rockets’ “Welfare Music” made me sit up at attention.

Mike Stack- 98 Years One of my favourite Alberta singers and writers; I had never seen this one anywhere, and feel bad that Mike probably won’t see money for this copy. An engaging set of original material with Prine and Temptations covers as bonuses. Another create piece of cover art from Steve Coffey.

Emmitt-Nershi Band- New Country Blues This one will get more playing. Positive grooves.

The Stanley Brothers- The Complete Rich-R-Tone Sessions Earliest Recordings Vinyl edition. It just seems right to listen to the Stanleys on vinyl even if it isn’t on 78. Clear vinyl as a treat. I love this set and have played the CD regularly for years.

I also picked up copies of Rosie Flores’ Girl of the Century, Sparks’ Exotic Creatures of the Deep, Gord Matthews’ The 3rd Best Thing, Tift Merritt’s Buckingham Solo, Bryan Sutton’s Not Too Far from the Tree, and Kim Beggs’ Streetcar Heart, several of which I had already paid to download, but…

While in Edmonton, I also popped into the West Edmonton Hardly Much Value store and dug through their delete/overstock bin and found a couple things that caught my eye: Seun Tuti + Fela’s Egypt 80 self titled effort, a tribute to Steve Goodman My Old Man that looks like it may be interesting, and Allison Moorer’s Mockingbird.

From the box of vinyl, I’ve raced through a number of titles while accomplishing various tasks around the house:

The Rolling Stones- Singles Collection The London Years I’ve got through 3 of the 8 sides- Hot Rocks on steroids. Very nice.

U2- Rattle and Hum I’m pretty sure I’ve never listened to it before. I doubt I will ever again, but from listening to it this weekend, I would judge it to be a fine set. Lots of variety. I used to love U2. Not sure what happened. A friend would suggest they became popular; I think there was more to it than that.

Jean-Michel Jarre- Les Concerts en Chine Well, I listened to one side of four at least.  I guess I don’t really get it.

Mike Oldfield- Crises and Five Miles Out These I get. I played the two albums every chance I had at the record stores I worked at. I have Crises downstairs so if anyone needs a copy. What ever happened to Maggie Reilly?

Cowboy Junkies- The Caution Horses I love this album and haven’t listened to it in probably close to fifteen years. What was I thinking?! A beautiful recording that, for me, is even more appealing than The Trinity Sessions. “Your memory leaves my stomach churning feeling like a lie about to be revealed…”

Big Country- Peace in Our Time Just lovely. If only I could find the Wonderland e.p.

New Order- Substance 1987 My annual dose of New Order. Check.

The The- Mind Bomb Another new one to me, although I’ve listened to other The The albums going back, again, to my record store days.

Continuing through the great mass of unshelved discs, part way across the ocean of Bs:

Belle and Sebastian- The BBC Sessions Bought simply for the live cover of “Whiskey in the Jar” but fully appreciated from start to finish.

Bearfoot- Doors & Windows No longer bluegrass, not quite Crooked Still. A more than enjoyable album from a year or so back.

Barney Bentall- The Inside Passage I bought this one last Christmas and didn’t really enjoy it. Second time around, I found more. Kind of like Stan Rogers for the left coast set. Some of the lyrical details grabbed me.

Be Bop Delux- Live! In the Air Age

Billie Joe Becoat- Reflections from a Cracked Mirror Amazing. Seek out this one if you’re open to challenge.

Darin and Brooke Aldridge- Self-titled If you listen to Bluegrass Junction you can’t hardly escape these folks. Darin’s been around for quite awhile but Brooke is a new, fresh voice. When she sings, I want to explore a whole different life, one that involves porches, hollers, and coon dogs. I appreciate bluegrass performed to this level, but since I bought it as a download I don’t know who is playing what. As talented as Darin is, I wouldn’t be surprised if he handles most everything. Yes it is pretty slick and smooth, but it is entirely honest, ringing true on every level. A keeper.

Various Artists- Dear New Orleans A collection of songs- some previously released- with New Orleans and her ongoing tribulations at heart. I think it is a very impressive package, but the second disc drags as it deteriorates with second-rate rock. The first disc maintains its pace much better, drifting from a broody Paul Sanchez tune featuring Shamarr Allen and a multi-artist take of “Dr. So and So” toward the Indigo Girls and a live take of “Kid Fears.” The highlight may be Jill Sobule’s “Where is Bobbie Gentry”; however, like much of the material, the connection to the Crescent City is lost on me.

D. B. Rielly- Love Potions and Snake Oil Finally reviewing this coming Friday in the paper. All-around Americana. Lovely stuff.

Sara Hickman- Absence of Blame A gorgeous album, also reviewed this week.

Les Copeland- Don’t Let the Devil In Guitar and vocal-based blues. Couldn’t ask for more. Some blues players try too hard, embellishing their music not only with the roots of the music but with every extension of it- put in some rock n roll lick, a bit of soul shuffle, a bunch of voices. Not Copeland…unaccompanied for the most part, played cleanly with an emphasis on mood that highlights his laid back, almost laconic style. Late in the disc “Don’t Let the Devil In” and “Crying for an Angel”  he does some jazz explorations, maintaining his blues focus. Also in the column this Friday.

Various Artists- Putumayo Presents Tribute to a Reggae Legend When I first listened to this Marley set, it sounded too smooth and easy listening. Second and third time through I found things to be more attractive with a greater variety of sounds and approaches.

Junior Sisk and Ramblers Choice- Heartaches and Dreams Maybe my favourite male vocalist in bluegrass…today anyway.

The Special Consensus- 35 Can’t get enough of these guys. I review this one in the upcoming Waskasoo Bluegrass newsletter- half fresh material, half archival.

Kathy Kallick Band- Between the Hollow and the High-Rise Also in the newsletter. Kallick doesn’t get enough credit as a bluegrass force- writing, singing, leading a band, and promoting the music. Great stuff. Buy it.

Cheryl Wheeler- Pointing at the Sun Gosh, she’s good. I need to listen to Wheeler more often.

Kim Wilde- The Remix Collection My quest to ruin any credibility I have continues.

Katrina Leskanich- The Live Album A very high energy set with a good mix of new and old.

Kim Beggs- The Wander’s Paean My new word of the week: paean. I think Beggs is the singer I’ve most enjoyed exploring this summer who isn’t John Boutté.

Jerry Butler & John Wade- Haulin’ Grass 30-plus minutes of bluegrass truckin’ songs. After hearing Butler do a spot on rendition of “Backin’ to Birmingham” in Lester Flatt voice, I was sold.

The Runaways- The Runaways and Queens of Noise History has been kind to these albums.

David Broza- Painted Postcard I haven’t listened to this one in eight years. Great sounds. Pulled off the shelf because I left a couple of his albums unpurchased at Megatunes. Dang.

Eleni Mandell- Country for True Lovers

Hey Mavis- Red Wine Reminds me a little of the Lonesome Sisters. Viola distinguishes Hey Mavis from similarly aligned acoustic roots outfits.

Clint Eastwood- Sings Cowboy Favorites Recorded in 1962, the material is quite lame but Eastwood pulls it off and maintained this listener’s interest all most the whole way through.

Carrie Newcomer- Betty’s Diner: The Best of Carrie Newcomer A neat summary that I listened to during a couple drives this month; Newcomer’s voice is so strong and deep. I love it, but some may find the album a little dreary and samey. She seems like such a darn nice person, too. I’m glad I bought this one a few weeks ago.

Lee Harvey Osmond- A Quiet Evil   Leave a comment

Originally published in the Red Deer Advocate July 3 2009

Lee Harvey Osmond

A Quiet Evil

Latent Recordings

Turn Tom Wilson (Junkhouse, Blackie and the Rodeo Kings) loose, and odd things are bound to occur.

His latest collective, featuring Michael and Margo Timmins (Cowboy Junkies), Josh Finlayson and Andy Maize (The Skydiggers), and Brent Titcomb (Brent Titcomb), mines deep, virgin musical ground; livelier and less nuanced perhaps than Iron & Wine’s Around the Well, it is every bit as engaging as Sam Beam’s rarities smorg.

Wilson has deemed the music ‘acid-folk’, but outside that meaningless moniker, the music is fairly indefinable. It isn’t what I would immediately label as roots music, but is has all the elements- original music, ties to country, rock, and folk, and textured vocals that shy away from pop gloss. The album seems dark, yet is soothing and enlightening. A Quiet Evil is half a world away from Dog Years, Wilson’s previous project, but is a raucous neighbor to his project with Bob Lanois.

It is an outstanding collection of variant music, by which I mean there are all types of sounds within the ten tracks, but they tie together into a cohesive statement. The presence of Aaron Goldstein’s pedal steel brings in shades of country, but the overall sound has as much in common with X and Los Straitjackets as it does Fred Eaglesmith.

Wilson sings in his voice- the guy couldn’t do anything else- and the results are as satisfying as ever. This time out he adds a bit of Larry Jon Wilson-like, half-spoken singing in several places, and that breaks things up nicely.

Margo Timmins brings calm refinement to the proceedings, and her featured numbers, including (You Drove Me Crazy) Now I’m Going to Stay That Way, are among the album’s many highlights. Parkland, a stream of consciousness ramble that describes the actions of a kid, and may be tied to the Kennedys…heck, I’m not sure what he’s doing; still, it would do Tom Russell proud.

A glorious album, I’m sure Lee Harvey Osmond will draw well at the Calgary Folk Music Festival later this month.