Cowboy Junkies

Artist / Band / Musician
Pop / Folk
Zoe Records
THIS SITE IS RUN BY LATENT RECORDINGS a label owned and operated by the Cowboy Junkies

Despite its title, the new Cowboy Junkies album, At the End of Paths Taken, is as much about new beginnings as it is about endings. It is also about human connections, the struggle to sustain those connections over time, and the complexities that can arise even when those connections are maintained. It is, in other words, a classic Cowboy Junkies album - a suite of smart, richly textured songs that value subtlety over broad, generic strokes, songs that prize insight and casual revelations over easily digestible clich├ęs.

Family lies at the heart of the album's eleven songs, and, of course, that is appropriate, too. Three of the band's members - singer Margo Timmins; songwriter, producer and guitarist Michael Timmins; and drummer Peter Timmins - are siblings, and bassist Alan Anton has been a member since the group formed in Toronto in 1985. Few bands have lasted nearly as long with their original line-up intact, and fewer still have created as consistently satisfying a body of work. Albums like The Trinity Session (1988), Black Eyed Man (1992), Miles From Our Home (1988) and Early 21st Century Blues (2005), to isolate just a few high points, chronicle a creative journey that is impervious to trends. Each of those albums sounds as fresh and current today as when it was made. You don't stay together and produce work of that quality and depth without learning something about family and permanence - what lasts, what doesn't, perhaps even what shouldn't.

But if their history is an important part of what led the band to At the End of Paths Taken, other factors entered in as well. "My idea was to write an album about families, about how generations affect generations, how there's a continuum," Michael says. "I'm the father of three young kids, and I've got aging parents, so that's obviously a big part of my life. But I found that what was going on in the outside world was affecting my writing. These times are extremely trying. What sort of world is being set up for my kids? All of that began to brew together."

The result is an album that takes family as a starting point, but goes on to look at the vast range of people's responsibilities to and for each other. "Songs like 'Still Lost' and 'Blue Eyed Saviour' are ultimately about any parent and their kids, about sending them out into the world and having no clue where that journey will take them," Michael says. On "Mountain," Margo's vocal interweaves with a recording of their father, a successful aviation salesman, reading a passage about their family from a book he recently completed about his life.

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