Cowboy Junkies “Renmin Park”

You know what you’re getting with Cowboy Junkies. They are releasing four albums the way that the second and third “Back to the Future” movies were released: every six months. This one is the first one, and I hope we get the other three (and that I get to review them so I can have the set).
Renmin Park is an actual park in Jingjiang, China, near where some/all/I-don’t-know of the band lived for a few months. It apparently serves as the inspiration for this record. If you want to hear some Chinese samples, then play “Sir Francis Bacon at the Net” or “(You’ve Got to Get) a Good Heart,” a song that betrays any chance people think this band is new. Very clear 1990 Big Audio Dynamite/The Farm sound on that one. And of course it’s awesome. Just listening to this one makes me want to refuse broccoli. “A Walk in the Park” is a cover, which means it’s in Chinese. It’s impressive to see them go out on a limb like this. Hey, Cowboy Junkies have their money and don’t give a fuck what you think. They’re going to do what they want. Good thing it does not suck.
There are more, what you could call traditional, tracks on this record. The title track is a notable example of this. “Stranger Here” sounds like Fiery Furnaces, although clearly it makes more sense to say Fiery Furnaces sound like Cowboy Junkies.
The random tracks with Chinese influence keep the record from sounding like all the rest of their efforts, but it’s not enough of a departure to give the impression of an identity crisis. Truly the best of both worlds.

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