Cowboy Junkies

The Caution Horses

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With the ethereal voice of Margo Timmins gleaning the lyrics "The phone rings, but I don't answer it/Good news always sleeps till noon" on the opener ("Sun Comes Up, It's Tuesday Morning), listeners rest assured -- the Junkies haven't compromised their comfortable, country-twanged, folk-rock style to cater more to the trends of the masses. Mellow, honest, and provocatively reticent at points, their melancholic tone might seem bland to those with more aggressive tastes, or to simply more mainstream palettes, but for those whose tastes float serenely upstream, and for Junkies fans in general, this album is a treat. As usual, brother and lead guitarist Michael Timmins has created narratives that make poetry of everyday observations and anecdotes. Not as rocking as later releases, but offering more originals than earlier ones, this, their third full-length, brings back the mandolin and fiddle playing of Jeff Bird, the accordion stylings of Jaro Czerwinec, and pedal & lap steel guitar from Kim Deschamps -- all of which gracefully complemented the Trinity Sessions recordings. Their arrangements seem simply planned, and it's the combination of such a consistently minimalist quality with Michael Timmins' delicate songwriting that evokes ghost-story moods ("Witches") and sunset-beyond-the-porch-swing moments. Aside from the Neil Young cover "Powderfinger," The Caution Horses marks the Junkies' gradual shift toward more original work, and stands as the calm before the more rocking, commercially successful storm of material that followed. Highlights include "'Cause Cheap Is How I Feel," "Rock and Bird," and "Escape Is Simple."

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