If you were to ask the Cowboy Junkies to pick their favourite month, what's the betting it would be October? Pretty short odds, I reckon, so quite fitting that this should be the second of their CDs to feature here in just over a week after Rarities…. I ordered this one direct from the Junk Store a year before the other, in October (of course) 2001.
As the title suggests, it's a live album from a US tour; but not what you might expect from a Junkies' live album. First, there's quite a lot of muscular guitar on it: not riffing and long solos, but effects-drenched bursts from Michael Timmins. Second, they haven't done what you might expect and record the sound of the room(s) they were playing with — as they did with The Trinity Session and Trinity Revisited, the latter of which I gave Lucy as a Valentine gift this year. Instead it's an intimate recording, miked up close and fairly dry.
Some of the songs really come to life in this setting. And though I sometimes find Margo's between-song banter a little inane, it's great to have her introduce Five Room Love Story with the story behind the song. It's also on Rarities…, and I liked it enough last week, but the extra context (no, I'm not telling you what it is; you'll have to listen yourself) makes it very moving indeed.
Last week I was saying that the Cowboy Junkies rarely get cited as pioneers of new business practices, but I neglected to mention that some astute commentators (viz: me) were the exception to this rule. Here's something I wrote in the Book:
Blogging is by no means the only technology for lifting the veil on the creative life and providing resources for deeper connections between fans and artists. The Canadian band Cowboy Junkies produced a CD-ROM called Anatomy of an Album, which, "through words, pictures, lyric drafts and music, will take you down to the cellular level of each song off of the One Soul Now CD". The parallel practice of providing, with the DVD release of a film, a 'making of' feature to document the creative process is now well established. Artists may soon be distributing these multimedia diaries online as a means of inviting the audience a little further into their world and building a deeper bond with them.Now Waltz Across America also comes with a CD-ROM section. One more time I fired up the old iMac, which now literally wheezes and creaks, and inserted the CD in the tray. After a few minutes a screen came up with three stars, each of them a just a hyperlink to the Cowboy Junkies website. Clicking on them fired up Netscape 4.7 (how did that get onto my hard disk?), which had to be configured, and then led to a 404 error. Brilliant!
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MusicBrainz entry for this album
Wikipedia entry for this album
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Listen to this album in full at Last.fm