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The Jayhawks: Rainy Day Music


The Jayhawks

Album: Rainy Day Music
Label: Lost Highway

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Ever since shortly after the release of 1995's magnificent Tomorrow The Green Grass, The Jayhawks' career disasters have overshadowed the band's musical output. The widely publicized departure of Mark Olson cast a pall over the bleak Sound Of Lies, in large part because his vocal harmonies were so sorely missed, and 2000's ingratiatingly poppy Smile met with slow sales that helped leave the group deep in debt to its now-former label. Two more members, guitarist Kraig Johnson and latter-day keyboardist Jen Gunderman, left the group before the release of Rainy Day Music, an exodus which would seem to qualify as yet another cataclysm. But bandleader Gary Louris has responded by making a welcome return to the sparkling, buoyant roots-pop that made him near-famous in the first place. Contrary to its title, Rainy Day Music radiates sunny pleasures, most notably on shimmering, Byrds-informed sparklers like "Stumbling Through The Dark," "Tailspin," "Angelyne," "The Eyes Of SarahJane," and "Save It For A Rainy Day." Louris sounds suitably refreshed throughout the disc, aided immeasurably by Ethan Johns' warm, organic production and the backing vocals of guests such as Chris Stills, Matthew Sweet, and Jakob Dylan. Rainy Day Music's second half sounds somewhat spotty next to the startling run of winners that get the record underway, but by that point, The Jayhawks' creative comeback is complete. Now that a reissue campaign is in the works, bringing 1989's Blue Earth back to stores later this month (complete with bonus tracks), here's hoping the band's commercial fortunes follow suit.