Paste Magazine, Dec 2006/Jan 2007

Crafty old-timers get crankier and scarier with age



* * * 1/2


Long Journey Home
[ZOE/ROUNDER]


Forget the DVD half of Long Journey Home, however well it captures big-haired Margo Timmins' smoldering onstage charisma. Two decades on, the deceptively complex music of Canada's Cowboy Junkies can still inspire soul-rattling dread, rendering visual embellishments unnecessary. On this spine-tingling 2004 live set recorded in Liverpool, Timmins meditates on sexual betrayal and existential angst with a calm that borders on eerie. Prodded by the sullen, churning guitar of brother Michael, she hisses, "Where'd you stay last night?" in the 14 minute lead track "32 20," and you can almost see the cocked-and-loaded handgun drawn behind her back. Elsewhere, the lulling accordion and tinkling mandolin of "He Will Call You Baby" suggest a happy home until Margo asks, "But will he listen when you cry?" The album eventually tails off into cozy nostalgia via their signature cover of Lou Reed's "Sweet Jane", though a formidable chill persists long after the music ends. Jon Young


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