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Cowboy Junkies
Trinity Revisited
Zoe Records
www.cowboyjunkies.com


The original Cowboy Junkies' record, The Trinity Session, has attained near-mythical status over the two decades since it was originally released. The stories of being recorded in a church with the band gathered around a single microphone are more than likely exaggerated a bit… but it truly was recorded in the Church of the Holy Trinity in Toronto, and to celebrate the 20th anniversary of that session, the Junkies returned to create some new magic. The Timmins siblings brought with them some good friends to help create a brand new sense of magic in the re-recording of the classic album, including Natalie Merchant, Ryan Adams, and Vic Chesnutt. The session was documented by filmmakers Francois and Pierre Lamourex, and a DVD of the performance accompanies the CD release. Also included on the DVD is a nice documentary film about the making of the new record, complete with precious footage of the Junkies behind the scenes.

The songs on Trinity Revisited are simply classics by now, from the opening notes of "Mining For Gold" to the closing strains of "Walking After Midnight." Margo Timmins' voice is still as resonant and beautiful as it was when she was young, her stark solo re-reading of "Mining For Gold" almost indistinguishable from the original recording, except the phrasing shows a maturity and comfort with the song that may have been lacking in 1988. "Misguided Angel" has always been one of the finest Junkies' songs, and having Natalie Merchant lend her wonderful voice to this unbelievable song makes the song that much more resplendent. Hearing two of the most beautiful female voices in modern music (and seeing two of the most beautiful women in modern music on the DVD) blend on this amazing song is phenomenal. Vic Chesnutt duets with Margo on "Blue Moon Revisited" and he sounds great, breathy and somber and wonderful. Jeff Bird wails on the harmonica as Ryan Adams joins in on "I Don't Get It," playing guitar and lending his gruff backing vocals. The beautifully somber "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" receives a slower, more breathy treatment with amazing vocals courtesy of Chesnutt and lovely falsetto vocals from Adams. A complete re-working of "To Love Is To Bury," featuring Natalie Merchant on piano and vocals and the inimitable Jeff Bird on fiddle is amazing, taking one of the most overlooked tracks on the original album and breathing new life into its very soul. Then Ryan Adams takes the lead on "200 More Miles," sounding better than he's sounded since Whiskeytown disbanded.

Chesnutt does a wonderful job leading the band through "Dreaming My Dreams With You" and harmonizing with Margo, before she takes the lead again for an excellent jazzy reading of "Working On A Building" that takes a turn into more sonic territory than the original, while maintaining its somber beauty. The band continues its sonic whirlwind as it segues into a blistering performance of Lou Reed's "Sweet Jane," staying true to their re-interpretation, but fleshing out the song with some wonderful jammy noisework. Margo sounds wonderful on the song and seems to still enjoy singing it, even after all these years. If Lou liked their version two decades ago, he'll like this one even more. The band rolls through an eerie version of "Postcard Blues," led mostly by Vic Chesnutt, before winding up the session with a cool, relaxed swinging version of "Walking After Midnight" that relieves the splendid tension brought forth by "Postcard Blues." What a way to end an evening!

There's no doubt that the best records in the history of the world were made by folks sitting around a microphone in a good-sized room, having fun, playing great songs and blending naturally. Trinity Revisited may not claim the one microphone trick, but the magic of the performances is evident. The energy is incredible as these friends sit around and play these great songs, and watching the DVD is a wonderful experience. The music is truly enhanced by the dark magic of Trinity Church, and the directors do a tremendous job of lighting the house to enhance the feeling of the music. Whether a fan of the Junkies or not, this is an experience to be had… more than once.

-Embo Blake

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