May 27, 2003

The Jayhawks "Rainy Day Music"

I have been terribly the reviews for Rainy Day Music. I personally think that somewhere, , in some way, Jayhawks mastermind Gary Louris angered the Almighty Rock Critic Gods, and he's been unable to get a fair shake ever since. It's too bad, really, because he's made some wonderful music over the past decade that has, for the most part, gone unheard. Rainy Day Music is Louris' latest offering, and, as usual, it's been misaligned in the press, due to critics who are judging this album from some sort of impossible, unnamed standard. Much like labelmate Ryan Adams, it's a no-win situation in the media's light. Critics who lament the loss of wonderful singer-songwriters and who are looking for a singer-songwriter savior dismiss both Adams and Louris without any fairness.

It's too bad, really, because Rainy Day Music is a record of worth. In my mind, it's clearly as good, if not better, than what most consider their best record, Hollywood Town Hall. In fact, let's not even compare the two, let's not even mention it, okay? Because Rainy Day Music is the Jayhawks' best record to date. This record's been on my stereo every day for the past week--should that tell you something? It tells me that I've enjoyed every single minute of this album, and I have no qualms about slipping this record into my rough "top ten albums of 2003" list. Unlike others who spend time treading over the same old tired sounds of 1970s rock, The Jayhawks have taken a fresh drive in the open air of excellent songwriting, and they've done it so well that their sound, while "retro" at times, is one they can truly call their own.

Louris is a singer-songwriter who, over the past few years, has honed his craft to a point where he betters some of the best, including Crosby Stills and Nash and the Eagles, and has created a record that could pass as a lost Dennis Wilson album, with Carl Wilson handling all the singing. Brian who? There's none of that here--just an album full of intelligent California-pop, with all the sunshine and happiness you could possibly want. As an added bonus, Louris is joined by some very talented people, such as Matthew Sweet, Chris Stills, and Jakob Dylan. Does it reflect on the music that two of these three are the sons of famous singer-songwriters, or does it make the Jayhawksí flight into their fatherís skies a little bit easier? I donít think so, because I really believe that Louris can achieve great heights on his own. Tim O'Reagan turns in two wonderful songs as well, "Tampa to Tulsa" and "Don't Let the World Get In Your Way."

All in all, Rainy Day Music is truly a classic-rock album, a wonderfully recorded album that just beams like the summer sunshine. While others may find fault for their simple, stripped-down pop, I can only scratch my head and wonder why. Additionally, there is a limited edition pressing of Rainy Day Music that contains More Rain, an EP of demos and unreleased songs. You simply MUST MUST MUST seek out a Rainy Day Music that contains this record, because it's a rewarding little find. The demo versions of "All the Right Reasons" and ìTampa to Tulsaî really highlight the brilliance of the Jayhawks, and youíll totally fall in love with ìCaught With A Smile on My Face.î There's also a live version of Hollywood Town Hall's classic "Waiting For The Sun."

--Joseph Kyle

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