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With the release of Love last year, Amen Dunes' Damon McMahon hit something of a stride in his work. He has managed to carve out a sonic niche for himself that is both ethereal and lo-fi - at once understated and euphoric. There is self-assuredness to the record, which makes a swift (and effective) follow up seem like a lofty aspiration. Thankfully, Cowboy Worship is more of a B-sides compilation than anything else, featuring several live and in-process versions of tracks that made the final cut on Love.

Are there Amen Dunes fans out there clamouring for a look inside McMahon's creative progression? Who knows. But Cowboy Worship provides an intimate look inside the making of Love and showcases the nuanced musicianship that sets McMahon far apart from other wistful, cabin-bound songsmiths with acoustic guitars.

To begin with, it's kind of unfair to reduce Amen Dunes' sound to a simple set of low-key, low fidelity waves. Love took over one year to complete, and its personnel list extends to a robust 16 collaborators. The version of 'I Can't Dig It' featured on Cowboy Worship bears a resemblance to a Fleet Foxes song--complete with layered, pensive melodies--than any of McMahon's skeletal early releases.

The Cowboy Worship featured take of 'I Know Myself' takes a little while to warm up; there's a definite restraint to McMahon's vocal delivery which is made haunting by its clarity. 'Lezzy Head', a cut from Amen Dunes' second record Through Donkey Jaw is also a slow burner, but without much lasting resonance.

'Green Eyes' takes on a space age element with some sparsely applied guitar fuzz. Ultimately, there is a reason certain cuts made their way onto Love -- Cowboy Worship isn't entirely cohesive or complete.

McMahon and co.'s take on This Mortal Coil's version of 'Song to the Siren' is perhaps the record's biggest disappointment. The transparent (and transcendent) quality of McMahon's voice makes him an ideal candidate to take on Tim Buckley's classic. However, fragmented and heavily reverbed guitars keep the song from reaching full euphoric potential.

At the end of the day, an outtakes record only appeals to super-fans and aficionados. Cowboy Worship is an interesting look at the evolution of Amen Dunes, but it doesn't add much to their oeuvre.

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