Thursday, 26 September 2013

7 inch singles collection: Cowboy Junkies - 'Cause Cheap Is How I Feel

Canada's Finest Country Band:


A-side: 'Cause Cheap Is How I Feel
B-Side: Thirty Summers
(RCA  1990)

I know Country  and Western has got a bad reputation, especially here in England, but bear with me on this because Cowboy Junkies are not full of the "Yee-Haws" and Stetsons that most people (erroneously) associate with the genre.

Records by Cowboy Junkies are big, open and spacious, living at slower more relaxed pace of life - much as I imagine their home country to be like. Although throughout many of their songs a strong streak of melancholy runs a wide course, despite this the sound is never cold, because singer , Margo Timmins, has a soft low voice, that could keep Canada cosy through many a harsh winter.

Talking of harsh winters, the first few lines of 'Cause Cheap Is How I Feel very effectively sets up the image of a cold night in the depths of winter. It's the story of the feelings coming from a damaged relationship. Nobody makes misery sound as beautiful as Cowboy Junkies.

Talking of misery Thirty Summers on the other side of the record is another damaged relationship - this time they're loving someone who they've loved for a long time, but that person has lost whatever spark that made them once special. There is a contrast though between the songs - whilst the relationship in 'Cause Cheap Is How I Feel sounds damaging, one-way and ultimately self-abusive to the protagonist, the one in Thirty Summers sounds supportive and strong, and maybe by the loved one can come back from the brink - so there is hope in there somewhere. I know Thirty Summers probably isn't about how one partner copes when the other has dementia, but having heard a lot of these stories over the last few years, it does bring them sharply to mind, and as such is very moving.

Bleak, but beautiful.

Next time the very first record ever released on the Warner Brothers label.

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