Cowboy Junkies – Ghosts – Album Reviews
by Killian Laher
It seems to be all about ghosts at the minute, with this time Cowboy Junkies theming a surprise album about them. This follow up or companion piece to 2018’s All That Reckoning has appeared without any advance warning. Desire Lines is a slowburning, Crazy Horse style rocker which gives the lie to the band’s perception as being mellow, practically horizontal tunesmiths. Equally intense is the (You Don’t Get To) Do It Again, lurching along on descending guitar riffs. Those who prefer the moodier side of the band are catered for here with the sparse, wintry ballad Breathing, featuring mainly piano and Margo Timmins’ voice. Grace Descends is exquisite moodiness, Timmins singing with quiet desperation over downstrummed guitars. It’s clear that the highwater mark of All That Reckoning hasn’t passed for the band, they are very much still in a good moment.
The Possessed is reprised from All That Reckoning where it closed the album with something of a whimper. It works better here to break up the album, a sparse ukulele lament standing out amongst the fuller sounding material. The second half of the album is less effective, though the good-natured strum Misery and folksy, fiddle-drenched ballad This Dog Barks are by no means bad, while closing track Ornette Coleman combines ukulele with trumpet. Odd-sounding, to be sure, but somehow it works.
The album doesn’t quite hit the heights of All That Reckoning, and with a running time of just over half an hour, it feels less essential. But it improves on each listen, and for those who enjoyed the Cowboy Junkies’ last album this is worth tracking down.
Track List –
1. Desire Lines
3. Grace Descends
4. (You Don’t Get To) Do It Again
5. The Possessed
7. This Dog Barks
8. Ornette Coleman