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Mockingbird Time (CD/DVD)

£12.99

Mockingbird Time (CD/DVD)

by The Jayhawks

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From The Jayhawks.com

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.” 


“We’re not an ‘80s hair band or a grunge band, we’re just a band,” says singer/guitarist Gary Louris about the Jayhawks, who formed in 1985. “We were always out of time and out of place and out of step, but our faults ended up being our strengths due to the fact that we were never locked into anything. So, without using the words ‘timeless’ or ‘closure,’ both of which I hate, I think it’s just that our music has aged well in and of itself, without being attached to any particular style or 
period.”

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. 

As it happened, O’Reagan joined the Jayhawks immediately after the recording of the landmark 1995 album Tomorrow the Green Grass, and this configuration of the group toured together for eight months before Olson departed in late ‘95. After Olson  relocated to Joshua Tree in the California desert and started the Original Harmony Ridge Creek Dippers with his new wife 

Victoria Williams, Louris took over sole leadership of the Jayhawks. The band recorded three more albums—all reflective of the harmony-rich, Anglophilic pop leanings of Louris and Perlman, with O’Reagan’s soulful voice filling the void left by Olson and his Gram Parsons-like quaver. .....Following that revelatory experience, the five Jayhawks agreed that they had “some unfinished business,” as Louris puts it, so they made a collective commitment to continue as a group—not merely revisiting their classic body of work but further expanding it. Says Olson, “Gary and I were actively involved in the process of making music together, and writing this record was the next step. We did it exactly like we’d always done: we got together, wrote the songs with the guitars and sang them into a modern-day cassette player, which is the computer.” They wrote in Louris’ apartment in Minneapolis; they holed up in a cabin in the woods of northern Minnesota; they went out Olson’s place in Joshua Tree. “The two of us write very quickly,” says Louris. “That’s just the way it works for us, because we fill each other’s holes so well. When we start laughing, we know it’s a good song.”

From there, they played their song demos for the rest of the band and booked Terrarium Studios in Minneapolis. There was just one little problem: Olson had already committed to a U.K. tour behind his just-released Many Colored Kite album, and he had less than two weeks to do his vocal and instrumental parts. “In a normal session, we would have put the vocals last,” Olson explains. “But because of the time constraint, we went for the vocals right after we had the drums and rhythm guitar, and Karen’s piano on a couple songs. Our basic method is, we go in and we sing together on two different mics, and it worked out really well, because I was able to work with Gary one-on-one with our singing. The time issue forced us to just hone in and go to work. It was a very intense situation to run through all the songs and get the best takes possible, and I really enjoyed that.”
Having learned the tricks of the trade from world-class producers George Drakoulias, Bob Ezrin and Ethan Johns, the bandmembers knew how to make records, so the decision to have Louris produce the new album was a no-brainer. “All the producers we’ve worked with are great, and each record we’ve made was unique,” Perlman notes. “But I could tell with Gary that it was time for him to produce the Jayhawks. He’d been producing records for the last few years, so he knew what he was doing, and he’d earned that right.”
Though Olson insists that Mockingbird Time “is not a reunion record, because Gary and I were still in the game, thinking together leading up to it,” he does see it as part of a continuum. “I think this new record is right in there with Hollywood Town Hall and Tomorrow the Green Grass,” he ventures. “In a way, I think it’s even more melodic and soulful, the singing is possibly better and there are more styles on it.”
If Mockingbird Time has a prevailing theme, it’s about coming to terms with what came before and pondering what’s ahead. Linchpin songs like the lush opening anthem “Hide Your Colors” (which could serve as the Jayhawks’ credo), the image-rich desert landscape “Tiny Arrows” and the ardent, bittersweet title track “are looking at time in different ways—whether you want to dwell on memories or keep going forward,” Olson explains. The force field between peering backward and pushing onward is a resonant one for this off again, on again band, with its fertile past, vital present and tantalizing future. “There’s a lot of blowing out left to do,” O’Reagan reckons.  —Bud Scoppa

Disc: 1

1. Hide Your Colors

2. Closer To Your Side

3. Tiny Arrows

4. She Walks In So Many Ways

5. High Water Blues

6. Mockingbird Time

7. Stand Out In The Rain

8. Cinnamon Love

9. Guilder Annie

10. Black-eyed Susan

11. Pouring Rain At Dawn

12. Hey Mr. Man

Disc: 2

1. Mockingbird Time: A Documentary

2. She Walks In So Many Ways: The Ocean Way Rehearsal Sessions

3. Closer To Your Side: The Ocean Way Rehearsal Sessions

4. Tiny Arrows: The Ocean Way Rehearsal Sessions

5. King Of Kings