Jayhawks shine through the clouds

by Matt Edwards

The Jayhawks’ seventh album, Rainy Day Music, isn’t as gloomy as the title may suggest; in fact, after taking it all in, the melancholy album shines.

Forming in 1985, in the Twin Cities area, The Jayhawks were alt-country before there was such a label. The band is credited for helping pave the way for groups like Son Volt and Wilco.

The Jayhawks first gained large exposure and success with its 1992 release, “Hollywood Town Hall.” In 1995, the band broke out even further with the critically acclaimed CD Tomorrow the Green Grass.

After a couple of more experimental releases the last several years, The Jayhawks are leaning back toward its signature sound. On “Rainy Day Music,” the band keeps things simple. The bittersweet album utilizes tight harmonies and vivid lyrics to keep you listening over and over again.

The Jayhawks even have several guest artists join in on “Rainy Day,” including Matthew Sweet and Jakob Dylan.

The Jayhawks soar with great songs like, “Stumbling Through the Dark,” “Angelyne,” “Don’t Let the World Get in Your Way” and “Save It For a Rainy Day.”

The beautiful floating harmonies will pull you into Rainy Day Music.

Somehow, The Jayhawks have perfected the art of making love, loss, and loneliness seem so damn appealing.

On “One Man’s Problem,” lead-singer Gary Louris croons:

“Peeking through my window pane

These eyes, the only see rain

I can’t believe she’s gone”

With the seventh track, “Don’t Let the World Get in Your Way,” The Jayhawks sound eerily reminiscent of David Bowie’s earlier work. The song’s title is haunting as it repeats throughout the chorus.

After that song, the flow of the album begins to break down. The pacing of songs reverts back and forth and many of them seem to lack the sense of direction that the earlier tracks possessed. The second half of “Rainy Day” simply feels like a mixed bag.

However, there still are several good songs in the second half. Also, the album’s finale is an acoustic version of the first track, “Stumbling Through the Dark,” and provides a good sense of closure to Rainy Day.

The Jayhawks know how to do folk-rock, and this album is a prime example of that. Rainy Day Music will make you want to turn off the TV and computer and just sit down to listen.