Album release: Cowboy Junkies, Sing In My Meadow – The Nomad Series Vol 3
Release date: October 17 2011
Label: Proper Records
“Twenty five years on, they’re more energetic and enthusiastic than ever” - The Guardian
“Their best album since those Trinity Sessions” - Independent on Sunday (on Renmin Park)
“The finest tribute Vic could have” - The Mirror (on Demons)
Cowboy Junkies release Sing In My Meadow – The Nomad Series Volume 3, the third album in the four-volume Nomad Series on October 17th via Proper Records.
Cowboy Junkies’ Michael Timmins explains: "The idea behind Sing In My Meadow was to create an album that referenced an aspect of our live performances that we don’t dig into very much in our studio recordings. We wanted the album to revolve around those psychedelic, blues-inspired forays we are so fond of exploring on stage. So this past February the live band (the four of us plus Jeff Bird) gathered in our studio to record all of these songs over a four day period. We approach them all live-off-the-floor: nasty and dirty and disturbing the cold winter’s nights peace. We tried to channel Miles at the Isle of Wight, deep in his Bitches Brew phase; Captain Beefheart and his Mirror Man psychoses; The Birthday Party live at the Electric Ballroom circa 1981 (Margo, Al and I were in that audience); Neil and Crazy Horse in the back room at SIR….overdriven and thick with electricity."
The first volume, Renmin Park and second Demons: A Tribute To Vic Chesnutt have already been released to critical acclaim and to follow is fourth volume The Wilderness, a full-album of new songs, some of which (Angel In The Wilderness, Fairytale, The Confession of Georgie E) the band have already introduced on stage.
Michael sums up the band's motivation for taking on such a massive project quite simply. "The main reason for wanting to do it," he says, "is that, as we steam through our twenty-fifth year, we feel that we have the energy and inspiration to pull it off."
Cowboy Junkies began their singular journey in 1985 when Michael Timmins (guitar), Peter Timmins (drums), and bassist Alan Anton, one of Michael’s oldest friends, began jamming in a garage. The next step was to find a singer. “I never wanted to be a musician,” Margo Timmins confides, “but one day Mike asked me to sing. I said yes, but only if I didn’t have to do it in front of the other guys. So I sang with Mike for a couple of days, and then he asked, ‘Um, do you think it’d be OK if we brought the other guys in now?’ I said, ‘Well, OK. I guess so. I mean, if we have to.’”
The band released its debut, Whites Off Earth Now!!, in 1986 on their own Latent Recordings label. Hypnotic and languorous, it revealed Michael’s fascination with Robert Johnson, Lightnin’ Hopkins, and other seminal blues artists. The band toured the Southern and Southwestern US in support of the record, soaking up the music of Waylon Jennings, Hank Williams, and Jimmie Rodgers along the way, which, in turn, inspired their second album, The Trinity Session, self-released in 1988. Subsequently re-issued by RCA Records, The Trinity Session earned its place as a seminal album in the burgeoning Americana movement and vaulted Cowboy Junkies to a wider audience and platinum sales.
Their subsequent albums — including The Caution Horses (1990); Pale Sun, Crescent Moon (1993); Lay It Down (1996), which featured the Top 20 Modern Rock hit A Common Disaster and earned Cowboy Junkies a gold record; Open (2001); and One Soul Now (2004)—chronicle the band’s evolution, a process Michael describes as gradual and organic.
In 2005, Cowboy Junkies released Early 21st Century Blues, an album principally comprised of covers, which Rolling Stone proclaimed “closely revisits the career-making Trinity — hushed electric guitars, brushed drums, and Margo Timmins' husky moans. It all adds up to a concept album about war that screams with a whisper.” The band’s most recent studio effort, At The End of Paths Taken (2007) was an acclaimed examination of family relationships and mortality in a complicated modern world.
To commemorate the twentieth anniversary of The Trinity Session in 2006, the band returned to the Toronto church where it was originally recorded and performed new versions of its songs with the help of Ryan Adams, Natalie Merchant, and Vic Chesnutt. The resulting documentary, Trinity Session Revisited, was released in January 2008, to overwhelming critical response.
Cowboy Junkies are now blasting forward with unprecedented determination. The Nomad Series may mark a new and distinct chapter in the band's remarkable history, but it is certainly consistent with their process and vision.
“One of the things we’ve done that has never changed,” Margo says, “is we’ve always made music the way it felt good to us. We never wondered, ‘How will this be received?’ or ‘Is this what’s happening?’ We’ve changed as musicians, but we never changed our attitude and approach. The music has continued to satisfy all of us. That’s why we’re still together.”
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