Cowboy Junkies – Trinity Session – A Review

If you are looking for an album to pick you up by the ears, slap you around with a silly stick and convince you that everything is going to be okay, then this is not an appropriate album for you.

I first heard this CD by candlelight. Sitting in Cameron’s dorm room, though Cameron was somewhere else. It was just me, my then roommate Darrell and Lori, all of us theatre people. We just sat there in the dark, the small round candles — the kind that melt so that the flame makes the colorful wax shell glow from the inside — casting no practical light.

We said very little, and sang softly on occasion.

“You saw me standing alone…”

I had been aware of Cowboy Junkies before. On a mix tape, I think. But this is perhaps the most profound of all of their CDs. Made up of half original songs and half covers, the mood never lets up from that rainy night, smoky room, you-better-think-about-what-you-did atmosphere.

It begins with an a cappella traditional called “Mining for Gold” about the tragic fates of many miners struck with blacklung — like I said before, if you wanted slaphappy, look elsewhere. But trust me, Margo Timmins voice makes you stay, makes you sit and continue to give attention.

“Misguided Angel” is an original tune that sets you up for next track – the shining gem of this album. Margo and her brother Michael take the jazz standard, the classic crooner “Blue Moon” and make it a prayer to a fallen (and perhaps ascended) King. “Blue Moon Revisited (Song for Elvis)” is the song we sang that night. Softly, lowly, almost reverently.

The Trinity Session, say the liner notes, was recorded live in 1987 at the Church of the Holy Trinity in Toronto. There is no audience, however, to give any respite between each intense track.

Also of substantial note are covers of “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” — almost out-bemoaning Hank Williams, Sr. himself, Lou Reed’s “Sweet Jane” and Patsy Cline’s “Walking After Midnight.”

This is definitely a necessary CD.


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