COWBOY JUNKIES -- Lay It Down (Geffen)

I have to admit - long before I heard anything from the new Cowboy Junkies CD, Lay It Down, I had pretty much dismissed them as just another cure for insomnia. There were a couple good songs scattered here and there throughout their repertoire, but nothing too exciting. Their cover of Lou Reed's "Sweet Jane" was interesting, but it paled in comparison to the original. Then I saw them perform an electrifying version of their current single, "A Common Disaster" on the Letterman show. From that point forward, my opinion of the band changed. No longer will I include the band in the sleep-inducing "folk" genre. Providing the radio stations give it the airplay it deserves, Lay It Down is sure to win over new fans, and please those who have followed the band for years as well.

Lay It Down has a dark, mysterious feel to it. Due in part to the sultry, silky vocals of Margo Timmins, as well as the crystalline production work of John Keane (REM, Indigo Girls), the band has taken on a whole new sound. There's plenty of underlying electric guitar and feedback throughout to make things interesting. The ultra cool bass line in "A Common Disaster" catches your attention immediately. One of the better tracks, "Come Calling" is included here in two forms - 'his song' (the original version) and 'her song' (the stripped down, slower version). Another track that really stands out on the new CD is "Just Want to See", with its Neil Young-like guitar work (must be something in that Canadian water).

Lay It Down has given me a new respect for a band that I'd previously considered to be just another boring folk-rock band. Even if you're not a fan of Cowboy Junkies, check out this CD. You'll be glad you did.

© 1996 Steve Marshall