You would think that an inspirational visit to China taken by Michael Timmins and his family would have resulted in a more interesting album. Alas Renmin Park Volume 1 is rather blah. OK Cowboy Junkies have never been an "in yer face" kind of band; their sedate and lovely, lonely melodies iced with Margo Timmins' chocolate fudge voice have never needed to be. The songs just wrapped themselves around you like a cool silk scarf. Yet Renmin Park Volume 1 holds nothing really special. Title track is classic Cowboy Junkies fare with Margo Timmins' beautiful vocals keeping a lone acoustic guitar company, while country-tinged 'Stranger Here' and the rather awkward and melodramatic 'A Few Bags Of Grain' are pleasant enough in their way. Intermixed with the songs are snatches of day to day life Michael Timmins recorded during his travels. Unfortunately they are so incongruous with the music they feel like they don't belong. Renmin Park Volume 1 is the first part of a four part series of albums to be released over the next 18 months collectively titled "The Nomad Series." Let's hope the others hold a bit more promise.
Holiday snapshots from Cowboy Junkies.