Review Summary: A song rises from a silent tunnel.
"The Trinity Sessions" is one of the most accomplished exercises in the alternative country, passing through the golden fields of dream pop and Americana. Also, it’s one of the greatest albums that weren’t especially influential, instead showing a brute beauty coming from a deep echoic sound. Romantic and full of country mysticism, Cowboy Junkies’ magnum opus waits for reconsideration, for a great vinyl remaster, and, above all, for further recognition from indie rock and lo-fi aficionados.
The music sounds like a cross between Mazzy Star and Joe Ely, a combination that unites mainstream dream pop and country sounds that faded into obscurity. This blend gives the entire atmosphere a hint of hidden wonder. This conceptual creed gains further dimension with the harsh blues influences. The acoustic darkness derived from the traditional styles provides a mesmerizing intimacy that surpasses even the unusual recording process. In this soundscape, songs like prayers engulf the listener, surrounding his feelings and making him return to a past innocence. The music gives shivers and a sense of nostalgia for a long-gone era, feeling like a poetic portrayal of the dawns of the XXth century. Due to this ability of suggestion, the musical power of expression is so accurate, so astounding, that every man with a heart surrenders to its charm.
The sound has a sort of enchanting dizziness that doesn’t fall into excessive sleepiness (as shoegaze or dream pop records often do), but raises our hearts into a rainy sky to see above the clouds or descends them into a mine of comforting darkness, with obscured violin sounds and bluesy echoes, searching for that blessed hidden character which often lacks in country. So, the music gains a prayer's echo, elevating the listener into a universe hidden from the profane view.
What’s unique about the approach is the intimacy that the group creates with its web of unfinished rhythms, its introverted harmonies, and the pure chemistry that it establishes between the instruments and enriches the music with further homogeneity. With the first song, "Mining For Gold", the band proposes an acapella intro, which brands an intimacy with the listener. After a strophe, the music stops... and then the instruments start to create a sound web that has echoes of Ry Cooder and Townes Van Zandt, of John Prine and Guy Clark. The band unveils its virtuosity, the arrangement reaching heights of unspoken poetry. Without knowing it, we were already listening to the second moment. The silence was just the transition from the first song to the second. With an inspired conception, the beginning feels like a question, the pause like a meditation, and the second moment like an answer. Here lies the group’s suggestive power: to create from music and verses phrases that bear a stronger significance than words.
With "Blue Moon Revisited (Song For Elvis)", the record begins to feel like a lucid dream, which doesn’t finish with the somnolent sensation of waking from a deep sleep but rather as a gentle coming to light from the tunnel of a mine, in which we found something more precious than gold.
Dark, mysterious, and ultimately charming, "The Trinity Sessions" offers way more than a cover of "Sweet Jane" and the background story of the recording session. Those who read the critics' reviews may be inclined to think that the album is just about the creation of a memorable hybrid between classic country, alternative rock, and dream pop. In reality, "The Trinity Sessions" doesn’t feel like establishing a mood so much as an incursion into an ensemble of sounds that were ignored until then in the alternative décor and the group masterfully uses these bits to compose a piece of heartwarming music and explore a wondrous beauty that lies within everyone of us but that we rarely let it express.