Demons, by Cowboy Junkies

Vic Chesnutt, who died of an overdose in 2009, was one of the best and most unusual songwriters of his generation. Country-rock veterans Cowboy Junkies are far more conventional. So Chesnutt diehards might not find much to like in this collection of his songs, but the album may provide newcomers a bridge to his work.

Whereas Chesnutt's voice was tentative and off-putting, Margo Timmins's is confident and sultry. It isn't, however, particularly sensitive: she's sung 25 years of brother Michael's varied songs in similarly blunt fashion, and Chesnutt's come out about the same. Michael Timmins, however, has a distinctive guitar sound that sits just right, his bursts of disheveled lines tapping into Chesnutt's tuneful wanderings.

The best track is "West of Rome," which keeps the original's slow-three feel but adds an ethereal backdrop—creating a sad slow dance, a lament for the addict in Chesnutt's song and for Chesnutt himself.


Steve Thorngate

The Century managing editor is also a church musician and songwriter.

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