Cowboy Junkies Rarities, B-Sides and Slow Sad Waltzes

Cowboy Junkies launch their new web site and revive their dormant Latent Recordings label with this collection of orphaned songs scattered about from their seven studio albums, and like their career, it’s more hit than miss. Among the highlights are a recording of “Five Room Love Story,” a touching true of a old widower who decorates his apartment with tchatkes — paper hearts, macaroni, dried lima beans — to pass the time and ease his lonely heart. Another live staple that appears here in its studio form is Dylan’s “If You Gotta Go, Go Now.” A quiet cover of “To Lay Me Down,” originally recorded for Grateful Dead tribute album Deadicated is here, along with part one of the band’s river trilogy can be found in the form of “River Waltz”; part two, “Bea’s Song,” was on 1996’s Lay It Down. The few weaker tracks, like “Love’s Still There,” “I Saw Your Shoes,” and stand out not for their songwriting, which is fine, but for their recordings. Ironically, given the dominant impression of the band, they’re relatively peppy and light, a slower, more sombre treatment might serve the material better. The liner notes are disappointingly sparse (ok, non-existent, save lyrics), but that shouldn’t stop longtime fans from logging on to order this net-only release. (Latent)