There’s no overestimating the influence of the Cowboy Junkies on the aesthetics of “low”, leading, decades after they rocked the world with whispers, directly to the phenomenon of dreampop and to the genre that I hereby deem closet folk (think early Iron and Wine). Appraised in context with such peers as Portishead and Mazzy Star, Margo Timmins and the band recalibrated the dynamics of rock, and their path remains evergreen with those with the courage for quiet and slow.
Funny that their latest, a quite strong 2016 roots-rock spaceout called, almost too descriptively, Notes Falling Slow, begins with wrenched squalls of fuzzed-out electric guitar. They are, of course, spacey and strangely discomfiting squalls; and when a tremolo-guitar arpeggio takes over the carriage of the song, the fuzzed electric immediately becomes what I always knew it would be: peripheral, a fringe disturbance. But on Notes Falling Slow, the Cowboy Junkies do in fact display a higher gear dynamically. Many parts rock unquestionably, though the ascents are slow. It is a beautifully recorded album, long and rich and patient as a glacier. It’s a sure-handed reclamation of this band’s pervasive influence.
The Cowboy Junkies perform at Club Helsinki in Hudson on Thursday, September 28 at 8 p.m. Tickets cost $50 and $60. For tickets and additional information, visit www.helsinkihudson.com. Club Helsinki is located at 405 Columbia Street in Hudson.