Tuesday, November 1, 2011


The Jayhawks are a band that I've always admired more than loved. I was in college when they released their breakthrough album, 1992's Hollywood Town Hall. I heard the single "Waiting For The Sun" all the time, and although they weren't where my head was at at the time, I knew they were a good group. 1995's Tomorrow The Green Grass was an album you had to be aware of if you were a music fan. These two albums, in my mind, had a lot to do with popularizing the "Americana" movement that I enjoy so much.  But after Green Grass, singer/songwriter Mark Olson quit the band.  Singer/songwriter Gary Louris kept the band going, but it was a different group without the co-leaders. There were certainly great songs after Olson left ("Stumbling Through The Dark" was great, "Save It For A Rainy Day" is one of the group's greatest moments and one of the best songs, maybe, ever). But the chemistry had changed.

So a couple of years ago when Olson and Louris got together as a duo, there were high hopes. Soon, they reactivated The Jayhawks and Mockingbird Time is the band's first album with both guys back in the fold.   The album is good, but not great, and doesn't have anything as classic as the material on their early '90s records.   On the other hand, the album gives the group new material to play in concert, which definitely holds up alongside the earlier stuff: the first single, "She Walks In So Many Ways" is one of the best songs of the year, and "Hide Your Colors," "Tiny Arrows" and "High Water Blues" are all great songs.  Some of the songs (like the title track) just drag. But if this is more than a "reunion" album, and is actually a "reactivation" album, I think it's promising.  The Jayhawks are the kind of band who could do their best album next year, they still have a knack for great hooks and beautiful harmonies.

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