I was in the seventh grade when the Jayhawks broke through with Hollywood Town Hall in 1992 and was a High School student when their 1995 album Tomorrow The Green Grass album was released. And even though I wasn't a fan of the band at that time, My brothers were and eventually I came to apprecaite the group. It was after Tomorrow The Green Grass that the band splintered with the losses of Mark Olson and Karen Grotberg. This left co-front man Gary Louris to keep the Jayhawks alive (with bassist Mark Pearlman and drummer Tim O’Reagan) and he did so all the way through 2003’s fantastic Rainy Day Music.
It was after the release of that album that most fans – including me – thought the band was basically through, particularly when the fantastic Music From The North Country: The Jayhawks Anthology was released in 1999 by Lost Highway Records. It wasn’t long after this that the band re-issued the hard-to-find Bunkhouse Album on Lost Highway and then the 1995 line-up was back together in the studio working on Mockingbird Time.
Now affiliated with Rounder Records, The Jayhawks set out with the goal to make the best Jayhawks record ever and after listening to the record about a dozen times, I don’t know if it’s their best record ever but it’s damn close.
“Hide You Colors” sets the mood and showcases that the album isn’t going to be completely ‘down-tempo’ and listening to the remainder of the album, it’s easy to place this album as sonically between Hollywood Town Hall and Tomorrow The Green Grass. The sweet harmonies are there, the rootsy classicist melodies and the twang is always present but never the focus of the record.
"She Walks In So Many Ways," “Stand Out In The Rain,” “Colors,” and “Pouring Rain At Dawn” all are downright appealing and the vocal harmonies (Louris and Olson often sing leads together) are as stunning as anything recorded in the last fifty years. Fans of Hollywood Town Hall’s tempo tunes will certainly find “Cinnamon Love” appealing as well.
Few modern bands recording today are able to transcend musical time and space the way that The Jayhawks can and that is a downright impressive achievement as Mockingbird Time stands among the best country/rock albums you’re likely to have heard in 2011 or 1972. It’s that good and you should find a place for it on your CD or digital album shelf, like I have.
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