Release Date: Mar 27, 2012
Record label: Razor & Tie
Genre(s): Alt-Country, Pop/Rock, Adult Alternative Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Alternative Singer/Songwriter, Alternative Country-Rock, College Rock
For the culmination of their four-volume Nomad series, the Cowboy Junkies provide a satisfying set that is aptly reflective of the 18-month journey, and their 25-year career. The series represents a wellspring of varied material—a collection that provides a lasting primer for the band’s sound and range. Taken together, the four discs display the often-overlooked diversity of the group.
The Wilderness is the fourth and final volume in the Cowboy Junkies' ambitious Nomad Series, a project that saw them release four albums of new material in an 18-month period. Earlier volumes were focused tightly around various unconnected themes; inspirations from a trip to China, a set of noisy acid blues, and an entire album's worth of Vic Chesnutt covers as a loving tribute to a departed friend. These conceptually sound chapters bring us to The Wilderness, ten songs centered on no fixed theme, but rather traversing a wider array of emotional settings.
This is the final instalment of The Nomad Series, a musically adventurous and compelling four-album set from these prolific veterans. Stylistically it is the record that most adheres to the sound most typically associate with Cowboy Junkies. And there's nothing wrong with that, given the addictive qualities of their subtly eloquent melancholy. Michael Timmins wrote these songs in a rural cottage over an Ontario winter and that setting is reflected in their meditative and introspective nature.
The Cowboy Junkies' four-part "Nomad Series" has seen the venerable Toronto band not so much re-invent themselves as reconnect with an elusive, unfettered creative spirit that fuelled their formation 25 years ago. As a finale, The Wilderness serves as a perfect summation of the project, confirming the Junkies' core musical principles, as well as a sign that they are sure to carry them into the future. In that way, The Wilderness is the most "conventional" album of the series – ten songs written in a more personal voice than singer/guitarist Michael Timmins has used in some time, and not as effectively since 1996's brilliant Lay It Down.