Album: The Jayhwaks
Rainy Day Music, American / Lost Highway
Friday 11 April 2003
Having built one of the cornerstones of the alt.country genre with their 1997 album, Sound of Lies, the Jayhawks made the huge mistake, on the follow-up, Smile, of abandoning their core business in favour of an ill-judged foray into Eighties-style AOR, as if what we really needed at that point was the return of REO Speedwagon and their ilk. Perhaps chastened by its lacklustre reception, they've made the inevitable volte-face with Rainy Day Music, whose reference points and associations are virtually all from the early-Seventies golden era of country-rock, with the band's burnished harmonies and jangly guitars summoning memories of the Eagles, Hollies, Byrds, and Crosby Stills & Nash in song after song.
Cementing the links, the former Eagle, Bernie Leadon, even appears on the album, plunking away at his banjo on "Tailspin", while Steve Stills's son Chris is but one of a younger generation of West Coast country-rockers singing back-up here and there. It's a much more appealing album than Smile, with chief songwriter Gary Louris's abiding preference for sad songs tempered by his gift for eminently hummable melodies: the result is that even an apparent downer such as "Tailspin" – about an unjustly condemned woman – has an oddly euphoric plangency somewhat at odds with its subject matter. As before, much of the album is taken up with Louris's reflections on romantic failure, break-ups, long-distance love, recollections of old flames, and shame at inappropriate desires, with the best song, "Stumbling through the Dark", tiptoeing skilfully (and catchily) around the theme of emotional uncertainty. A welcome return to form.
Art Piece taken off website amid 'severe security alert'
Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challengeTV
Academy criticised after no non-white actors nominated
tvAn expose of hooliganism masquerading as an ideological battle
artLee Hadwin can't draw when he's awake, but by night he's an artist
Arts & Ents blogs
- 3 The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
- 4 British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British Muslim school children suffering a backlash of abuse following Paris attacks
Islamic history is full of free thinkers - but recent attempts to suppress critical thought are verging on the absurd
30,000 reasons why the rhetoric on immigrants claiming benefits can stop now