Early 21st Century Blues

Cowboy Junkies. <i>Zoe/Latent</i>.

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Sure, all Cowboy Junkies albums sound the same—if you’re not paying attention. Because she never breaks a sweat, it’s easy to be lulled by the hushed elegance of Margo Timmins’ voice, but there’s high drama lurking within her mellow tones. Early 21st Century Blues may be the Canadian band’s most compelling work yet, presenting somber observations on humanity’s follies from the likes of Springsteen and Dylan, plus a few originals by brother Michael Timmins, who also injects sneaky-smart guitar riffs. In his “December Skies” Margo murmurs, “Let’s all kill our children and sing about it,” with scary calm; elsewhere, they craft a stirring version of George Harrison’s “Isn’t It a Pity,” and remove the hot air from U2’s “One” to highlight the beautiful melody.

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