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As a diehard Jayhawks fan, any album by the group is welcome, even if Back Roads And Abandoned Motels is not strictly speaking a formal Jayhawks album, rather a collection of songs written by Gary Louris for other singers and groups that the Jayhawks didn’t record themselves but decided to commit to disc so we can hear them as “Jayhawks” songs. As an album, Back Roads and Abandoned Motels fits neatly into the group’s canon and is a bit of a departure from the group’s customary jangly alt-country that has served them well for decades. Opener, the mid-tempo Come Cryin’ To Me, features keyboard player Karen Grotberg comfortably handling lead vocals and sounding a little like Sheryl Crow, which ain’t a bad thing. As the album progresses, little gems come up, resplendent with the trademark close harmonies we all know and love, and you soon forget that this isn’t a “proper” Jayhawks album with Bitter End and A Long Time Ago as good as anything the group has recorded. Five stars for sure.
I really love The Jayhawks but was not blown away by Paging Mr. Proust, however, this is just brilliant. It features songs written for other artists and never recorded by the band before and two new songs.
For me it harks back to The Sound of Lies, which is one of my favourite records and I feel this is going to be also. Outstanding tracks are hard to chose when everything is this good but I will go with ‘Everybody Knows’, ‘Backwards Women’ and ‘Need you tonight’ as a starter. That said there really is not a lack lustre song here and the mood and pace is varied to be able to cater for the broad church of their fan base. This is a record I completely and utterly recommend.
Not an out and out classic but solid and thoroughly listenable. No bad songs, The Jayhawks being one of the few bands I've heard who generally avoid padding out an album with filler. Nothing that's on a par with their best (I'm thinking Tomorrow the Green Grass era) though if you're a fan it's an enjoyable listen.
Gary Louis is such a good songwriter. I've only picked up on Jayhawks over the last couple of years but each album offers up brilliant songs. This one is no exception. I managed to see them live last year and it confirmed how great and probably underrated they are. Buy it you won't be disappointed.
Whilst I enjoyed the songs on this set, being a huge Jayhawks fan, I can't say they blew me away. Largely covers of other artist's songs, they lack a little in the magic of Gary Louris' writing. Still a top notch album by any other bands reckoning though.