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This review is from: Mockingbird Time (Audio CD)
I started buying The Jayhawks' albums after seeing the video of 'Blue' back in the mid-1990s and since then have collected all of them. In every case, I played them over and over for weeks. I've played this one several times already, but for a different reason: while I was hooked on the others, I had hopes that 'Mockingbird Time' would grow on me. It has a little, but not much. It features one of their classic line-ups reformed and the style is similar, but something is missing.
The first track rather sets the tone, a growly, lumbering performance with a decent melody and lyric which doesn't really grab me. On this and several other tracks I get the feeling they're marking time. Everything is a notch lower than on previous albums. The passion, inspiration and imagination just isn't quite there. A few tracks do stand out: 'Tiny Arrows' plus the last four tracks are, in my opinion, the best, but all would be among the weakest tracks if included on their earlier albums. I also think that the tension between the styles of Louris and Olsen, the former pop and rock oriented, the latter more folk and country, is missing, probably because Louris is the producer.
Lyricwise, they seem jaded. Lines about going down to the river and standing in the rain, for instance, are cliches. I'm surprised that 'Cinnamon Love' has found popularity with other reviewers; it sounded repetitive and unimaginative to me.
I still feel that The Jayhawks have created far more musical riches than any other artist of the last twenty years, and 'Mockingbird Time' is still better than most of what we are being asked to buy these days. On the other hand, I'd advise anyone thinking of listening to one of their albums for the first time to avoid this one and go for one of their 1990s releases.