Picks and Pans Review: The Caution Horses

updated 03/12/1990 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/12/1990 AT 01:00 AM EST

Cowboy Junkies

We've got a pulse!

With their dirgelike 1988 breakthrough, The Trinity Session, this Toronto band became the critics' deadpan darlings. The Cowboy Junkies have resuscitated themselves somewhat the second time out. Instead of resembling hollow-eyed children of the dead, spawned by Lou Reed and Leonard Cohen, they come across like, well, depressed ranch-hand addicts.

Songs such as "Sun Comes Up, It's Tuesday Morning" and " 'Cause Cheap Is How I Feel," accented by pedal steel guitar, harmonica and florid accordion, suggest a country-and-western band busking on the boulevards of Paris. With its spry mandolin, "Rock and Bird" is positively festive—comparatively speaking that is. This outfit is never going to spark a hoedown, not as long as Margo Timmins, who sounds like she had her hand in the Thorazine jar, handles the vocals. Once again, her mopey delivery is most striking when it's clinging to the legs of someone else's well-known song, in this case Neil Young's "PowderFinger." The production and the instrumentation are a little brighter on The Caution Horses than on the band's previous album, but the Cowboy Junkies are still a mournful proposition. So drag yourself over to the camp fire, pull up a log, hang own your head and listen a spell. (RCA)

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