A collection of rare and never previously released recordings.
Rarities, B-Sides and Slow, Sad Waltzes
marks the rebirth of Latent Recordings, the label created by the Cowboy Junkies to release their first two landmark albums, Whites Off Earth Now!!
and The Trinity Session
. Though they've already released a best-of package--Cowboy Junkies: Studio
--this is somehow a more fitting tribute to the particular and peculiar vision of the Junkies' music. Comprised of one-offs, rare tracks, and lost demos culled from a decade of recording, it features all the elements that produce Cowboy Junkies junkies. They've never strayed far from their trademark formula, playing stripped-to-the-bones, kinda rockish, kinda countryish, kinda bluesy songs at a somnambulant pace and at room temperature. Even when they get a bit noisy, as on "I Saw Your Shoes," it's a sparse noise, made more by volume than by density. Part of what the Junkies have always done best is applying their aesthetic to songs lifted from others' fakebooks, and their rollicking run-through of Bob Dylan
's "If You Gotta Go, Go Now" and their slow-as-molasses lope through Jerry Garcia
's "To Lay Me Down" stand among the album's highlights. And there's always the pleasure of Margo Timmons's distinctive voice, which carries much of the Junkies' appeal. Somehow she manages to sound both distant and intimate, kind of like a drowsy lover. Everything she sings sounds as if it's recorded in a vast, dark, and empty room, and she makes the most of it on "River Waltz" and "Sad to See the Season Go"--both lovely, lovely songs. If these are indeed the Cowboy Junkies' castoffs, it proves they're a band that can do no wrong. --Tod Nelson