Last year Amen Dunes released their third album, Love; a spiritual record of sorts, it was heralded as a far more popular, accessible work than the much lower-fi obfuscation of its two predecessors. Yet for all of its greater clarity and openness, Love did take some eighteen months, a similar number of musicians and five different studios before it finally came to fruition. Cowboy Worship, a six track Extended Play recording, is, in essence, what was swept up off the cutting room floor from those extensive sessions.
Four of Cowboy Worship’s tracks – ‘I Can’t Help Myself’, ‘I Can’t Dig It’, ‘Green Eyes’ and ‘Love’ – are alternative takes of songs that first appeared on Love. The self-protection of ‘I Can’t Find Myself’ and Love’s beautiful, reverential title track – as if Nina Simone had somehow been joined in holy matrimony with Traffic’s jazz-inspired epic ‘The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys’ – differ by degrees, those nuances of detail that can only change with a shift in time and place.
‘Green Eyes’ does not stray too far from its version on Love either. It still reminds you of what Syd Barrett may have sounded like had he not fallen into that deep abyss of emotional meltdown. But ‘I Can’t Dig It’ – an angry outburst of wracked failure on Love and a song seemingly at odds with the devotional serenity of the rest of the album – is finally granted absolution on Cowboy Worships.
Another song to be reincarnated is ‘Lezzy Head’. First appearing on Amen Dunes’ second album Through Donkey Jaw, it is given the full band treatment on Cowboy Worships without losing any of its spectral core. This leaves ‘Song To The Siren’ as the only “new” track to appear on the EP. With Ben Greenberg’s elliptical guitar and Damon McMahon’s echoing voice, it drifts in the ether that lies somewhere between the This Mortal Coil version of the song and Tim Buckley’s original recording.
It would be very easy to dismiss Cowboy Worship as a mere collection of outtakes that add little or nothing to the purity that embraces the Love album. Yet if the six songs that comprise this EP are evaluated in their own right, they do somehow distil Love’s essence into something that feels, if anything, even more redemptive.
The Cowboy Worship EP will be released via Sacred Bones on 19th January 2015