Picking up a All that Reckoning’s run-out groove, Cowboy Junkies return with Ghosts – a more-personal, less-universal, but just-as-existential collection of musical musings written and recorded in response to the death of Margo, Michael and Peter Timmins’ mother, to whom the LP is dedicated. 

“We traced these desire lines from our hearts to her home/search for redemption or to cast the first stone/was it peace that drew us in?/was it peace that she’d impart?/all is hope is that these ghosts are dragging me to a richer, stronger start,” Margo sings on the opening title track. 

Songwriting guitarist Michael soaks Ghosts in lyrics such as these and his sister delivers them in a voice dripping with empathy – there’s no self-pity here – as the songs drift from the atmospheric spiral of “Grace Descends” to the percussion-propelled “(You Don’t Get To) Do it Again” to “This Dog Barks,” on which the core band is accompanied by fiddle and blends folksy verses with a grinding chorus. 

“He did not change, he was revealed … she did not change, she was concealed … if you look forward all you love will disappear,” Margo sings on the latter. 

Despite the occasional quietude, much of Ghosts, like its 2018 predecessor, is a wash of ’90s-learning, alt-rock infused with power chords; a sound that suits the contemporary Junkies quite nicely. 

Now available digitally, Ghosts will eventually be released on vinyl with a remastered version of All that Reckoning. But jump in now; Ghosts is another unexpected, not-so-low-key gem from the band.