During their heyday in the first half of the 1990s, the Jayhawks perfected a captivating sound that seamlessly blended the elegant folk-rock of the Byrds, the adventurousness of the Buffalo Springfield, the hippiebilly soulfulness of the Flying Burrito Brothers and the soaring harmonies of the Beach Boys. So it’s richly ironic that their reappearance coincides with a dramatic resurgence of the musical approach they played such a central role in perpetuating—but this time around, the Jayhawks themselves are revered as icons by the young bands carrying on those same traditions., and it’s their own legacy that they’re advancing.
On "Mockingbird Time," the Minneapolis-based band’s eighth album, and the first since 2003’s "Rainy Day Music," they’re once again pushing the envelope in songs and performances of rarefied dynamism and grace, forming boldly intriguing stylistic and thematic combinations while retaining their unmistakable sound. The album’s shapes and textures range from the string-laden grandeur of “Hide Your Colors” and the widescreen vistas of “Tiny Arrows” to the streamlined 12-string jangle of “She Walks in So Many Ways” and the amphetamine frenzy of “High Water Blues.”
Make no mistake — this is a classic Jayhawks record, capturing the ultimate lineup of this great American band in full flight. But there’s an irony at work here as well: The new album marks the first time all five of these musicians— Louris and co-leader Mark Olson, bassist Marc Perlman, keyboard player Karen Grotberg and drummer Tim O’Reagan — have ever been in a recording studio as a unit. “There’s a lot of irony in this band,” says O’Reagan with a wry laugh...