SoundStage! Music Online Editor's Pick Archives
May/June 2001

Cowboy Junkies - Open
Latent/ZoŽ 01143-1020-2, 2001

SnapShot! Rating:
****

Part of what made the Cowboy Junkies' The Trinity Sessions so successful was the unity of its vibe: slow-to-boil songs recorded with lots of ambience and atmosphere. Open, the Junkie's ninth album, accomplishes this again to a certain degree. It's a collection of often edgy but finely nuanced tunes that owe more to Neil Young than The Velvet Underground -- Lou Reed's "Sweet Jane" was one of the high points on Trinity. Open is all originals, which is a pity because of the Cowboy Junkie's always-interesting interpretive powers, and mood predominates the songs, so often reminding me of the earthy poems of Greg Orr (read him and you'll know what I mean). The sound is big, wide and vivid, above average for in-studio work. I'm more of an admirer of the Cowboy Junkies than a bonafide fan, but Open sounds to me like a significant addition to the band's body of work....Marc Mickelson


Johnny A. - sometime tuesday morning
Favored Nations FNP2081-2, 2001

SnapShot! Rating:
****

A rock guitarist with fusion instincts, Johnny A. spent seven years as musical director and guitarist for ex-J. Geils Band front man Peter Wolf. But the fully instrumental (just guitar, drums and bass) sometime tuesday morning makes me lament that lost time. The picking on both electric guitar and lap steel conjures, at various points, the growl of electric blues, the twang of western swing and the improvisational flair of jazz. The bouncy, foot-tapping "Oh, Yeah" is followed by a dreamy cover of "Wichita Lineman" that's worth the cost of the disc itself. Guitarist test track "Walk Don't Run" gets a respectful playing, as does the Beatles' "Yes It Is." This is not music that will necessarily challenge you (unless you are a guitarist), and that's OK -- even preferable -- late at night with the lights out. But there's more than enough here to warrant multiple playings -- along with clear, spacious sound....Marc Mickelson


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