Home Read Albums Of The Week: Cowboy Junkies | Such Ferocious Beauty

Albums Of The Week: Cowboy Junkies | Such Ferocious Beauty

Heading toward their 40th birthday, the eternally underappreciated art-roots outfit ponder aging, mortality & loss with their latest strikingly beautiful, darkly potent LP.


THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Such Ferocious Beauty is both vintage Cowboy Junkies and another new sonic dimension from the lo-fi Canadian band comprised of family. A tangle of sonic textures, Beauty is a rumination on aging, losing parents, facing mortality and creating space for one’s life in the midst of the ruin that comes from merely living.

“Mike has never shied away from the darker, harder and sometimes uglier realities of our human condition,” Margo Timmins explains of the band’s singular focus, “nor has he shied from its beauty. Thankfully, with one comes the other.” Written in the early days of 2021 with Covid still raging, democracy burning, and the Timmins family dealing with their dad’s increasing dementia, Michael says, “It was a time of great existential dread when many of the pillars that many of us had been leaning on, for our entire lives, seemed to be crumbling. I was struck by how easy and quickly things can fall apart, if not properly respected.”

For Such Ferocious Beauty, Michael stresses that he and Margo spent more time working through the songs, letting her interpretations really settle before taking them into the studio. And once in the studio, he worked with the rest of the band to create even more dynamic tracks than usual. “This is a different kind of recording; there’s a denseness to it. In many ways the music, the choice of certain structures, the tones used become as important in communicating the albums themes as do the lyrics.” “The songs are expressions of Mike’s soul,” says Margo, “but once written, once he gives them to me, to the band, and eventually the audience, there is no right or wrong interpretation.”

Photo by Heather Pollock.

Hard to Build. Easy to Break, the first radio single from the album, reflects on appreciating what we have. “These days there seems to be this pull towards destruction,” explains Michael. “I’m more interested in the effort it takes to create something or the experience of seeing something evolve. On the flip-side of that is how easy it is to utterly smash and destroy whatever is at hand. The line ‘Tend the flame that lit your way / stop worshiping the ash,’ kind of sums it all up for me.”

An alternative country and folk rock band formed in Toronto in 1985 by Alan Anton (bassist), Michael (songwriter, guitarist), Peter Timmins (drummer) and Margo (vocalist). The band gained wide recognition with their second studio album The Trinity Session (1988), recorded in 1987 at Toronto’s Church of the Holy Trinity. Their sound — captured using an ambisonic microphone — and their mix of blues, country, folk, rock and jazz earned them both critical attention and a strong fan base.

The band have sparkled over the course of 26 albums. “I’ve known Alan longer than I’ve known Pete,” says Michael. “We were friends before Pete was born.” Unlike most long-lasting groups, Cowboy Junkies have never had a breakup or taken a sanity-saving hiatus. There’s an appreciation of each other that keeps them working. “It’s that intimacy and understanding of what each one of us brings to the table,” says Michael.

For nearly 40 years, Cowboy Junkies have remained true to their unique artistic vision and to the introspective, quiet intensity that is their signature, creating a critically acclaimed body of original work that has endeared them to an audience unwavering in its loyalty. Albums like The Caution Horses (1990), Black Eyed Man (1992), Pale Sun, Crescent Moon (1993), Lay It Down (1996) and more recently, Open (2001), One Soul Now (2004), Early 21st Century Blues (2005) and At the End of Paths Taken (2007) chronicle a creative journey reflecting the independent road the band have elected to travel.”

Watch my 2022 interview with Michael Timmins HERE.


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