(Latent/Razor & Tie)
Billed as the fourth entry in Cowboy Junkies’ so-called The
Nomad Series, a song cycle inspired by chief Junkie Michael Timms and his
family’s pilgrimage to China, The Wilderness could just as easily have been
the series’ first. For that matter, it’s also all but indistinguishable from
any of the other previous outings this narcoleptic
combo has released over the past 20 years. The fact is, plain and simple, that
the Cowboy Junkies have been procuring these dreamy designs over the course of
their entire career, rarely rising above a whisper in deference to that twilight
intent established early on.
Here, however, there’s a theme, and a high-minded one at
that, one that details the dilemma of being lost at certain points in life,
worried regarding age, relationships, parenthood – in fact, any of those
moments where meaning and decisions necessarily converge. Given the context,
there is opportunity for the songs to resonate a bit more obtrusively, whether
it’s through the cushion of comfort that underscores “Unanswered Letter (for
JB),” “We Are the Selfish Ones” and “Staring Man” or the measured pronouncement
of “Idle Tales,” “Damaged from the Start,” and “Fairytale,” the latter of which
sounds for all the world like Tom Waits seeking the heart of Saturday night.
Still, any sense of assurance is ultimately muted, not
only by the hushed circumstances but by an overcast perspective that’s often
unsettled. Consider this music a salve for the soul – restful, resigned, pretty
and pensive… and yet as fragile as it is fleeting.
“Unanswered Letter (for JB),” “We Are the Selfish Ones,” “Fairytale” LEE