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Best of Cowboy Junkies

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Album Review

Like so many of their '80s contemporaries, Cowboy Junkies have never quite broken into the mainstream, yet their music has seeped into movies, television, and alternative radio. Despite their lack of fame, they still made great music that persevered through trends and imitators, and the best of that music is found on this compilation. Their early covers of "Sweet Jane" and "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" highlight the first third of the album, featuring Margo Timmons' whispered vocals over the lazy shuffle pumped out by the rest of the band. The up-tempo country lament "Sun Comes Up, It's Tuesday Morning" and the cheery "To Live Is to Fly" show Timmons' vocals shaping into a strong croon reminiscent of Natalie Merchant. Even their '90s work, which critics were never very kind to, still has strong representation with "Anniversary Song" and "Hard to Explain." Fans may wonder why no songs from any album past Pale Sun, Crescent Moon are included, as so many great songs — from "Common Disaster" to "Dragging Hooks" — could have rounded out the album. Although these albums may have been financial disappointments, they still could have included some of the stronger tracks. As it is, this is still a good retrospective of the strongest years of a band who made good albums long after the compilation's cutoff date.

Biography

Formed: 1985 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Although it didn't originally have anything to do with their sound, the Cowboy Junkies' name wound up seeming pretty accurate: their music was grounded in traditional country, blues, and folk, yet drifted along in a sleepy, narcotic haze that clearly bore the stamp of the Velvet Underground. The vast majority of their songs were spare and quiet, taken at lethargic tempos and filled with languid guitars and detached, ethereal vocals courtesy of Margo Timmins....
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