Music Express (Canada)
US Distribution by Sam Goody
Volume 13 / #135
April 1989

By Dean Hayes
Photo by Phil Regendanz

COWBOY JUNKIES

The Diamond

Toronto, ON

The Cowboys' return to Toronto midway through their triumphant Trinity Session tour was a heartfelt homecoming of sorts. Industry types, hardcore fans, hangers-on and the recently converted gathered in Toronto's premier rock showcase to see if the Junkies' rapturous reception by American critics would 'change' them. They needn't have worried. These Junkies were as sedate as ever; the same serious music drastically rearranged classics and hypnotic originals delivered in the same spooky style.

The Junkies have managed to win fans across North America by breaking virtually every convention in the how to succeed in pop handbook. The band has almost no stage presence three of the six instrumentalist perform seated. And you have to listen to their music to appreciate it it doesn't wash over you in reverb and thumping bass. While they weave together elements of folk, blues, and country, the Junkies certainly don't rock out. In fact, they rarely move on stage at all. And oddly enough, it's this very stillness that is mesmerizing. It's like being sucked into a dreamscape where you're buffeted by quiet, achingly beautiful sounds.

Mumbling tales of the road in an off-hand way between songs, Margo Timmins quickly belied any signs of the stress that can be brought on by unexpected success. She even got a few affectionate chuckles early in the set, when she shyly dedicated a Junkies original, I Don't Get It, to graffiti artists everywhere who feel compelled to scribble phallic symbols in juke joint washrooms. And this from a band not noted for its sense of humor.

What the Junkies are noted for, and what they delivered with spellbinding finesse, are startling renditions of classics like I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry and Lou Reed's Sweet Jane and just-as-startling homegrown originals. Timmins' astonishing voice held the normally boisterous Diamond crowd hypnotized throughout and the low-key instrumentation matched her effortlessly, song for song. This is a mature confident ensemble that is determined to march unerringly to its own distinctive beat.

 

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