Cowboy Junkies Return With 'All That Reckoning,' Title Track From New Album: Premiere

Cowboy Junkies
Joseph Llanes

Cowboy Junkies 

Cowboy Junkies will end the six-year wait for a new album with the July 13 release of All That Reckoning -- whose track "All That Reckoning Pt. 1" is premiering exclusively below. It's been the Toronto group's longest gap between albums so far, which guitarist and chief songwriter Michael Timmins says was not by design.

"We were just working on different projects and different things," Timmins tells Billboard. He adds that the quartet was also well aware of how different music consumption is now than when Cowboy Junkies made its platinum splash 30 years ago with The Trinity Session. "We've released a lot of records," Timmins explains, "and in the business climate the way it is today it becomes harder and more difficult to figure out why one does that besides for the art of it. And you can get that part of one's personality massaged by doing live shows and small projects. A whole album is a lot of work. You sort of begin to think, 'Does anybody care anymore?'

"But it's hard for us to think about singles or whatever format people are purporting to be the new way of putting out music. So if we're going to record, for us, it's going to be an album."

After accumulating a group of songs coming from both the personal and political side, Timmins says that "the artistic side took over" and the group hit its home studio to begin shaping All That Reckoning. "I think a lot of people are trying to figure out where we're headed in the world, where society is going, what's gonna come out the other end," Timmins says. "There's a lot of pressures and a lot of crumbling of institutions, very little foundation to put one's feet on again, especially at an older age. You sort of expect things to be there and realize, 'My God, what I thought was a standard, whether it be an institution or a way of dealing with people in our society, is disappearing.'"

U.S. politics is a big part of that, of course, and Timmins feels the impact even though he and Cowboy Junkies are ensconced in Canada. "For Canadians, the U.S. is our lifeblood," he explains. "A lot of us work there. I'm married to an American. So there are many ties to it culturally, politically and, seriously, economically. When things go askew there it really toys with us no matter how ordered we make our own little corner of the world. So it's frightening. It's worrisome, on a very real world level. And to have kids going into that world, it only adds anxiety to one's existence."

The two parts of "All That Reckoning," meanwhile, bookend the album and, according to Timmins, "can be seen as a real personal statement about personal politics and relationships, or what's happening socially and politically in the world." He acknowledges that it's "basically the exact same song, done two different ways," but the group liked each enough to include both on the album.

And the Reckoning reaches no firm conclusions, either. "I think it's pretty-open ended, to tell you the truth," Timmins says. "To me it's a reaffirmation. I think the reckoning is still going on. When the song comes back it's not saying, 'OK, we're all good now.' It's saying, 'OK, it continues on and we deal with it.'"

Cowboy Junkies will start previewing All That Reckoning when the group returns to the road on May 3. Timmins says shows will come in relatively short bursts but still take the band to plenty of places to show off the new material. "We find there's only so much touring we can do in a row these days," he says. "We still like to play live but we lose that passion for it if we're out on the road too long. We get too tired and the fun of it goes, and as soon as the fun goes you don't want to be out there. So these days we try to do short little runs and spread the tour out over a longer period of time, which seems to work for everybody."