Cowboy Junkies talk new album, Kingston tour stop

As industry changes, ‘a Junkies record is a Junkies record’

The Cowboy Junkies will play at the Grand Theatre on Oct. 10.
Credit: 
Photo supplied by killbeat music

Thirty years since the Cowboy Junkies’ humble beginnings in a Toronto garage, their place in Canadian music has never wavered. 

The Cowboy Junkies, made up of Alan Anton on bass and the Timmins siblings—Margo,  Peter and Michael—on vocals, dums, guitars resectively, will perform songs from their 2018 album, All that Reckoning, at seven different stops in October—including The Grand Theatre in Kingston on Oct. 10.

Michael Timmins spoke to The Journal on the phone about the 11 new tracks, which he says revolve around “social, political, and personal” relationships.

“The miscommunication and the taking of sides, and I think mainly the poor treatment of one another, is a big thing in my observation that’s kind of frightening,” Timmins said, alluding to the inspiration behind the music. “We just don’t treat each other with much respect these days.”

The tension between lovers comes across in the title-track “All that Reckoning,” which appears on the album in two parts and meditates on the fear of being stuck in a relationship and then letting it go.

The first part has a slower tempo and soft guitar in the background while the second part groans with stronger vocals and walloping bass and guitar, demonstrating the versatility of  Margo Timmins’ vocals.

Margo’s iconic mix of melodic and rock singer rasp shows up in “Mountain Stream,” which Timmins told The Journal is based off a William Blake poem called “The Angel.” 

He added the song combines Blake’s original poetry with Cowboy Junkies’ signature lyricism, meshing them together into a single piece of writing. 

With lines like “my youth and queen, my mountain stream, have been stolen by the years,” the song speaks to lost love and the cruelty of time. 

The blatant melancholy of “Mountain Stream” quickly switches into the lighthearted tune “The Possessed,” which pairs the Devil with a surprising ukulele appearance. 

“It’s hard to get dark when you’re playing a song on the ukulele,” Timmins said, but admitted there’s “something darker lurking” in the song, a nod to lyrics about the “devil disguised as light” who takes possession over the speaker. 

Despite this new experimentation with the ukulele, the overall sound of the album is similar to the band’s previous music.

“It’s been five years since our last record, and I’m five years older, so the songs are different in the ways in which they look at the world,” he said. “Musically, there’s a few different textures on the record, but generally speaking, a Junkies record is a Junkies record. That’s something that’s important to us, the sound of the band and how we play together.”

Some things still change: the business side of music has changed “a zillion percent” and marked a major challenge for the band, according to Timmins.

“We’re all older now, and physically touring is difficult,” he said. “The value of recorded music is kind of irrelevant now. That’s disappeared, which is a real shame.”

Their love of making music and playing together keeps them grounded through it all. The Cowboy Junkies are the same, regardless of tour dates or record sales.

“Nothing’s changed,” Timmins said. 

 

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