Cowboy Junkies – All That Reckoning – Album Review by Killian Laher
All That Reckoning is the first album in six years from the Cowboy Junkies, appearing 30 years on from their most celebrated album, The Trinity Session. From the cover art to the gentle menace of the opening track All That Reckoning (Part 1), it’s clear the band are in darker waters than usual. Margo Timmins sounds effortless as usual, her low croon bouncing off the unadorned bass and guitar of the dark ballad. The production on the album is terrific, allowing each instrument the space and time to stand out, especially Michael Timmins’ guitar.
They excel at creating a brooding mood, particularly when they keep instrumentation relatively sparse on piano-led Shining Teeth and the austere Wooden Stairs. The latter slice of moody folk is a really fine piece of work, akin to Gillian Welch’s more hushed moments, Margo Timmins singing “if we could just sit on those wooden stairs again”. Also worth noting are the sultry blues of Mountain Stream and the slightly rocking Nose Before Ear.
When We Arrive has strong guitar work, but nothing is overplayed, no notes are wasted. There’s plenty of opportunity for Michael Timmins to indulge in some distortion, sparingly on The Things We Do To Each Other, and more lavishly on the Crazy Horse-style workouts Sing Me A Song and Missing Children. They unleash a second, heavy version of All That Reckoning (Part 2) towards the end of the album. This one works just as well as the opening version, though very different in its sea of crunchy guitars.
The band have not changed their sound hugely in more than thirty years, just tweaked it here and there depending on their mood. On this album they sound vital and committed. If you’ve lost track of this band since their late eighties/early nineties heyday, this is a perfect point to jump back in.
1. All That Reckoning (Part 1)
2. When We Arrive
3. The Things We Do To Each Other
4. Wooden Stairs
5. Sing Me A Song
6. Mountain Stream
7. Missing Children
8. Shining Teeth
9. Nose Before Ear
10. All That Reckoning (Part 2)
11. The Possessed
All That Reckoning (Part 1)