Most of the Cowboy Junkies' new album of literate, blue-hued grooves is made up of cuts that create the perfect background for when you find yourself spending an introspective evening wondering what y

Most of the Cowboy Junkies' new album of literate, blue-hued grooves is made up of cuts that create the perfect background for when you find yourself spending an introspective evening wondering what you're really doing with your life—and the only things that can help you see straight are a good friend and a few stiff drinks. On the group's Zoë debut, band leader Michael Timmins' songs address such themes as murder and infidelity (as usual), with their pensiveness emphasized by sister Margo Timmins' breathy, deceptively dramatic vocal work. The Junkies allow sparse elements, like the single beat of a tambourine or some tastefully judged guitar feedback, to subtly color their songs, many of which ultimately elicit the feeling of being slowly dragged into an emotional quagmire. With a bar stool and enough ruminating time, tracks like "Thousand Year Prayer," the dark "I Did It All for You," and "Beneath the Gate" serve as seductive, if somber, food for thought.—CLT