On the one hand, you can look at the nagging tendency of veteran Canadian acts to hover at cult-level popularity in the U.S. as a bad thing. On the other hand, a group like Cowboy Junkies has arguably benefitted from not getting huge. Certainly, the band's audience has. Household names who have managed to maintain their artistic integrity for the past 22 years, the Junkies have quietly redefined (and continue to redefine) the parameters of roots and acoustic-based rock. For whatever reason — perhaps it's the whole outside-looking-in thing — Canadians often capture that elusive Americana spirit more accurately than our bands do down here. Just ask fans of Neil Young and the Band. And just like those two acts, the Junkies have verged on creating a genre unto themselves, something that's unmistakably rock but relies on quiet dynamics and sensitivity to pack its punch. The band returns to Arizona armed with material off a string of captivating releases since 2000, including Early 21st Century Blues, a set of cover songs about war, despair, and death that epitomizes the band's expertise at cloaking dark subjects in its gentle-rock sheen.
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