COWBOY JUNKIES play Massey Hall May 14. See listing. Rating: NNNN
This five-disc box set marks the completion of a project that Canadian alt-country veterans the Cowboy Junkies embarked on in 2009: to release four connected albums in just 18 months. (They also threw in a CD of bonus material.) The band used a cycle of five paintings by cover artist Enrique Martínez Celaya for inspiration.
The quick succession of writing and recording lends the project cohesiveness despite the distinctness of each album. Renmin Park, for example, blends Eastern and Western instrumentation and weaves in found sounds from China; Demons is a tribute to the band's late friend and collaborator Vic Chesnutt; Sing In My Meadow shows off the group's loose and loud "acid blues" side, while The Wilderness is wintery, introspective and melancholic (though not without a sense of humour).
Six more Chesnutt covers made it into the bonus material.
Top track: Idle Tales