Friday, September 30, 2011

The Jayhawks Have Really Gone Back to Mockingbird Time

The Jayhawks are back with Gary Louris and Mark Olson at the helm!  The recently reunited Minnesota rockers released a statement concerning their new studio album Mockingbird Time saying that they (paraphrasing) “set out to make not just a good Jayhawks album, but the best one ever”.  That’s a pretty lofty goal considering the band’s classic one-two-three punch of Blue Earth, Hollywood Town Hall and Tomorrow the Green Grass, released in 1989, 1992 and 1995, respectively.

Mark Olson took-off after Tomorrow the Green Grass, leaving co-frontman Gary Louris as bandleader, and he notably released Rainy Day Music under the Jayhawks moniker in 2003.  Well, the Jayhawks are the songwriting team of Mark Olson and Gary Louris in most peoples’ opinions, so it’s those early three classic albums featuring the core lineup that Mockingbird Time will be stacked up against.  So what’s the verdict?  My first listen to the album was unavoidably met with some skepticism.  I was looking for reasons why this wouldn’t be the best Jayhawks album ever.  By about the 6th song in things started to change.

After listening to it several times now I’ll admit that Mockingbird Time doesn’t sound like “the new” Jayhawks album.  It just sounds like the Jayhawks at their best.  There are 12 individual tracks, but I don’t want to get into a song-by-song analysis.  (That’s how I came to listen to their older stuff – cherry picking my favorite cuts to make a "best of" mix).  Instead, I see Mockingbird Time as basically one long, cathartic piece.  The farther I stand back from it, the more I like it.

Perhaps years down the road, when we’ve “really gone back to Mockingbird Time”, it will sound even better.  Click the image below to hear the album's title track, or click below that for Rolling Stone's full album stream (while it's active).

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