Amen Dunes

Cowboy Worship

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Conceived as a companion piece to Amen Dunes' gently transcendent Love, Cowboy Worship shines the spotlight on different versions of a few of the album's songs. Some of its changes are subtle; the EP is bookended by interpretations that are very similar to what ended up on Love. On "I Know Myself (Montreal)," it's clear where the mellow groove of the album version came from, but its meditative cello drones and layered vocals come to the fore, creating a more intimate and immediate feel. Likewise, the rough edges on "Love (Montreal)" add a welcome, wabi-sabi beauty to its hazy reflections. Where much of Love was deceptively breezy, its pastoral sounds leavening Damon McMahon's musings on devotion, Cowboy Worship strips away some of this patina for a more intense mood. "I Can't Dig It (China Street Blues)" reveals Love's frenzied rocker as something more deliberate, its turbulence more clearly defined from its pulsing first half to its dramatic finale. "Green Eyes (Music Blues)" remains a standout, and this version, which features Harvey Milk's Stephen Tanner and heroic doses of distortion, emphasizes the song's feeling of disconnection ("No emotion/That's the sound of devotion") in a way that surpasses the album track. However, Cowboy Worship's finest moment isn't an Amen Dunes original; it's an original-sounding cover. McMahon's version of "Song to the Siren" pays homage to the airy longing of Tim Buckley -- one of Love's main inspirations -- as well as the bittersweet sensuality of This Mortal Coil's interpretation without slavishly copying either. While Cowboy Worship doesn't match Love's transporting qualities, it does offer a pleasant tangent for Amen Dunes fans wanting more of its mysterious beauty.

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