By Kerry DooleThis is the final instalment of The Nomad Series, a musically adventurous and compelling four-album set from these prolific veterans. Michael Timmins wrote these songs in a rural cottage over an Ontario winter and that setting is reflected in their meditative and introspective nature. As ever, they are brought to life by the restrained, yet haunting vocals of Margo Timmins and the high-calibre musicianship of the Junkies and guest instrumentalists Joby Baker, Jeff Bird, Miranda Mulholland, Michael Davidson, Jesse O'Brien and Matt Bailey. This is a fine finale to an impressive artistic achievement.
The Nomad Series covers a wide stylistic range. Is it fair to say The Wilderness is closest to the signature Cowboy Junkies sound? Michael Timmins: Yes. That was intentional, in many ways. When we came around to the fourth volume and had these songs sitting there, and I listened to them from a perspective of two years later after we'd completed the first three volumes, it became obvious that these were very much of a style we had done in the past. We were determined to keep them in that style and not push them out of that comfort zone. We just thought it'd be a nice touch to the whole series to have something a little more folk-oriented, which people who followed the band earlier in our career could relate to. It was a definite nod to the past.
Are you relieved the project is coming to an end? The relief is that we completed it; it was something we set out to do. We didn't really have all those records sketched out; we knew what the first one would be and had a direction for the fourth one, but we really didn't know what the second and third would be. There was a little stress involved in trying to come up with the ideas around that, but it all went very smoothly. We were off the road for most of last year, so it gave us something to focus our attention on. The biggest thing is "what do you do now?" We have a little bit of leeway before that happens, but we move onto our next thing pretty fast.
Most bands of your longevity slow down in output. If anything, you are accelerating your work rate. We've never been short of ambition and work ethic in this band. In the last few years, we have become more comfortable in our studio, so that allows us to give a lot more attention to our recorded output. We are still enjoying playing with each other. Announcing something like a four-album series doesn't throw us. We feel if we have an idea, we can achieve it. I think it is maturity and confidence as you grow older and grow together.