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The Jayhawks take collaborative route on new "Back Roads ..." LP

Wim Wenders / Sony / Legacy
"Back Roads and Abandoned Motels" is the 10th album by The Jayhawks.
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ALBUM REVIEW: The Jayhawks – Back Roads and Abandoned Motels (Legacy) 2018

It seems that The Jayhawks – led by Gary Louris -  have opted for a more collaborative recording on the recently-released Back Roads and Abandoned Motels, an 11-track LP featuring covers of songs ranging from the Dixie Chicks (“Bitter End” and “Everybody Knows”) to Jakob Dylan of The Wallflowers (“Gonna Be a Darkness”).

Admittedly, this new material does not quite reach the heights of Rainy Day Music (2003) or Mockingbird Time (2011), but it’s a fairly solid effort, given time and attention.

Dixie Chick Natalie Maines recorded an album back  in 2013 titled Mother (reviewed here) and on it was the song “Come Cryin’ to Me,” which the five-member group covers solidly, with keyboardist Karen Grotberg taking lead vocal. She later shines on the Carrie Rodriguez cover "El Dorado," where "the streets are made of gold."

Mandolin player John Jackson, himself a Jayhawk, is given leeway on the record, and with fine results, as we hear on the aforementioned “Gonna Be a Darkness.” And his violin talents shine on “Bitter End.”

Vocally, that “Jayhawks Sound” is most evident on the Wild Feathers cover “Backwards Women,” a song that is most certainly in the wheelhouse of this Minneapolis-based alt-country group. Same with “Need You Tonight,” with harmonies reminiscent of Crosby, Stills & Nash.

Interestingly, the Gary Louris-penned originals are left for the end of the record, in the form of the melancholy jangle-pop number “Carry You to Safety” and the heartbreaking ballad “Leaving Detroit.”

Back Roads and Abandoned Motels had to grow on me over a month or so, admittedly. Why? Perhaps I just love their mid-90's material too much and its hard to top in my mind. But I want to be fair and this record will stay with you, if you are patient and let the music flow through you.

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Andrew W. Griffin

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Andrew W. Griffin received his Bachelor of Science in Journalism from...

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Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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