There’s something extremely enigmatic about Sing In My Meadow. It is the third volume in Cowboy Junkie’s Nomad Series and comes after the band has been together for 25 years. Surprisingly, the album doesn’t feel like recycled material, but instead sounds as if it would fit right in with their platinum records from early in their career. This latest release features a group of songs that weave alternative country into an atmospheric grunge sound that results in a psychedelic blues feel and really makes the listener think about what exactly is happening on each track. No song is overly problematic; it’s a pleasant mixture of sounds that perfectly compliment Margo Timmins’ vocals.
Michael Timmins, lead guitarist, songwriter and brother to Margo, crafted distinctive tracks that can rile you up, but he also has the ability to fade into the background, creative a calming effect. The fuzzy guitars and country undertones recreate the well-remembered Seattle sound while Timmons’ vocals sound more like the lighter alternative vocals of Natalie Merchant from 10000 Maniacs. The combination results in unique twist of familiar sounds of the early 1990s.
Meadow opens with heavy distortion and dirty horns blaring on “Continental Drift” for a solid amount of time before Timmons’ soft country voice lightens the track up. Her voice barely is loud enough over the music. It isn’t because of the lack of mixing, but it sounds artistically done to draw the listener into intently paying attention. While a lot of the album sounds like grungy alternative rock, “Late Night Radio” brings more of a country vibe thanks to slightly twangy vocals and lyrics of a good, old-fashioned road ballad. The tone of Meadow switches again a few tracks later with a Black Keys-like “A Bride’s Price” with steady beats and eager, distorted guitars.
The retro resonance may come due to the band wanting to explore their live performance tendencies on a record. A jam-session recording can become overbearing, but Cowboy Junkies never foray into anything over-the-top, and after a free-flowing guitar riff they are able to reign themselves in every time. It’s clear that they have been able to hone their sound and perfect not only what listeners have come to love and expect, but also music the band itself wants to hear.