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The Jayhawks

Rainy Day Music (Lost Highway) • The Jayhawks

Every single song is a stone groove. Gary Louris, with a little help from his mates, turns in a near dozen fantastic tunes, and AAA's favorite sons an incredibly satisfying record of acoustic based pop music. Don't get me wrong, there is plenty of great jangling going on. No dearth of lap, slide, steel, or electric guitar, hardly--and all the personality keyboards: harmonium, chamberlin, pump organ, as well as organ and piano.

What I mean is, in almost all of the studio pictures on the website, somebody's got an acoustic guitar in their hands, and everybody plays one, you know? That's where it comes from. (It's pretty startling that Louris didn't own an electric guitar till he was 22, in fact.)

The ubiquitous Ethan Johns figures crucially into the sessions, as a mighty player along with engineering, mixing, and producing. That's the old pepper. Ethan Johns and The Jayhawks come off to this listener as people and artists that real music makers and afficionados would love to know. The lyrics are very warm and imbued with romance and fraternity, but in a hip and gritty fashion.

All the elements I'm looking for in a great record are here, beautiful songs, great singing, great tracks. Not slick, not at all. I listened to Pete Yorn a little the same week I heard Rainy Day Music a lot. I realized I didn't like his record near as much because it sounded too expensive, too slick, too perfect. Too corporate, actually. Even though he's a real talent and has great songs, it's the record one makes that tells the tale, and forms the image of the artist.

On the very first page of the Rainy Day Music CD booklet, along with the Ethan Johns credits and that of Executive Producer Rick Rubin, the assistant engineer and mastering man, there's a credit for Ed Ackerson, who recorded the demos in Minneapolis. That caught my eye, I wondered why someone would do that, put that usually lost information on the first page. It's about who these Jayhawks are, and how they feel about their music, and how they make records. We like it, we like it a lot. Buy this record, you'll be so glad you did. • FG

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