The Jayhawks (from the album Back Roads and Abandoned Motels available on Sony Legacy)
Over the course of three decades, The Jayhawks have molded Folk, Country, and Rock like clay, creating small statuettes of songs, the common stamp on each finished piece the lush harmony and bright jangle on the tracks. Their recent release, Back Roads and Abandoned Motels, finds The Jayhawks keeping the model in place as they collect past co-writes, and a couple of self-penned tunes, from frontman Gary Louris. Back Roads and Abandoned Motels borrows from shared credits with the Dixie Chicks, including album opener “Come Cryin’ to Me”, The Jayhawks’ Karen Grotberg taking lead on the cut as the band fill “Bitter End” with the camaraderie of the rousing bar room sing-a-long. The Jayhawks head to “El Dorado” with a tune written by Gary and Carrie Rodriguez and turn a moody melody wheel to spin a track penned with Jakob Dylan for the HBO series True Blood (“Gonna Be a Darkness”).
The Jayhawks have varied members enough to give their album’s specific current incarnation listings, with Gary Louris (vocals, electric and acoustic guitars) and Karen Grotberg (vocals, piano, keyboards) joined in the band by Marc Perlman (bass), Tim O'Reagan (vocals, drums, percussion), and John Jackson (mandolin, violin, acoustic guitar). Lead vocals are shared on Back Road and Abandoned Motels as guitar jangle and warm harmonies wrap sunshine around the lifeless existence in “Everybody Knows”, stay true to Folk in the admission of “Need You Tonight”, and scatters notes in the empty air surrounding “Bird Never Flies”. Country touches the chords backing drummer Tim O’Reagan as he takes lead vocals on “Long Time Ago” while The Jayhawks pound out a rock’n’roll beat for the tribute to “Backwards Women” and drift in the dreamy reverie exiting the album as Back Roads and Abandoned Motels watches and listens to the story, and the music, unfold in “Leaving Detroit”.
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