Here’s what BLURT had to say about Lee Harvey Osmond.
Let’s see here… released on the Cowboy Junkies’ own label; produced and recorded by the CJ’s Michael Timmins; features both Michael and sister Margo, with the other members of the Junkies making guest appearances; includes a cover of an obscure CJ tune, “Angels In the Wilderness”; even mastered by the Junkies’ longtime cohort Peter J. Moore; must be a Cowboy Junkies side project, right?
Not exactly. LeE HARVeY OsMOND is the brainchild of Tom Wilson, from Blackie & the Rodeo Kings, who conceived of the project as a kind of Canadian musical collective – hence the involvement of the Timminses et al, not to mention fellow Rodeo King Colin Linden, members of the Skydiggers and a handful of others. Wilson wrote or co-wrote most of the material and sings and plays guitar, so it’s clearly his baby, although as the notes above suggest, Cowboy Junkies fans and band trainspotters will find much about A Quiet Evil to cheer. In fact, several tunes have a familiar opiated twang and nocturnal ambiance: the spookywoozycool “Blade of Grass,” with its hushed vocal and backwards guitar swirl; the quietly intense, fuzztone-flecked blooze of “Summer Girl”; and of course pedal steel/B3-powered weeper “You Drove Me Crazy (Now I’m Gonna Stay That Way)” – how’s that for a great song title – which features Wilson and Margo Timmins in classic country duet mode.
All that aside, A Quiet Evil ultimately lives up to its titular suggestion; there’s an understated quality here barely masking a lurking sense of desperation and malevolence. From the simmering “Lucifer’s Blues” (check Wilson’s part-spoken, part-sung vocal, which with his deep voice suggests a cross between Chuck Prophet and Dave Alvin) to a searing, edge-of-psychosis cover of Lou Reed’s “I Can’t Stand It,” the record’s steeped in a kind of gothic noir ambiance. This is only made all the more unsettling by the demented cover art, a Satanic-looking dog/rabbit mutant with sharp fangs and jutting phallus. And what’s up with the upper/lower case lettering scheme of the band name? Is there some kind of subliminal messaging going on?
Wilson may or may not have spent time in that part of Canada where the weird sunlight schedule has been known to drive folks a little bit crazy, but on the evidence of this album, he’s definitely a lotta bit twisted, so beware. Twisted in a good way, of course…
Standout Tracks: “Queen Bee,” “Blade of Grass,” “Angel In the Wilderness,” “I Can’t Stand It” FRED MILLS
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