Album: The Sound of Lies
Mark Olson left The Jayhawks after Tomorrow The Green Grass to go work with his wife, Victoria Williams, and — like Peter Holsapple after Chris Stamey left the dBs — Gary Louris decided to carry on with the band under the established brand name.
Working with long-time bassist, Marc Perlman, the songs that Louris came up with for The Sound of Lies are somewhat different than the Americana that dominated their previous records: the guitars are louder, for one thing, and songs like “Sixteen Down” and “Poor Little Fish” have experimental textures to boot.
Album: Tomorrow The Green Grass
After their debut, The Jayhawks made pretty good album for Twin/Tone called The Blue Earth, and then in the wake of the No Depression mini-boom, got signed to Rick Ruben’s American label and put out the two records that are acknowledged as their masterpieces, 1992’s Hollywood Town Hall, and 1995’s Tomorrow The Green Grass.
Both albums are highly recommended, as Gary Louris — who started co-writing a lot of the songs — and Mark Olson used the bigger budget to toughen up their songs without crossing the line into over-production.
Album: The Jayhawks
Though it took me until the early downloading days of the late ’90s to actually find it, the self-titled album by the Jayhawks (also known as The Bunkhouse Album as that’s the label it came out on) is yet another proto-Americana artifact from the mid-1980s.
More explicitly country than any of their future works, The Jayhawks gets much of its depth nearly any time that Mark Olson — who was their main songwriter at this point — and Gary Louris sing together.
Album: Something More Than Free
It took awhile for Jason Isbell to reach his full potential as a solo artist.
After blowing minds by writing one of the greatest songs ever about fatherly advice, “Outfit,” as his debut tune of his stint in Drive-by Truckers and and following that with killers like “The Day John Henry Died,” and “Goddamn Lonely Love“, his first few solo albums didn’t really live up to his enormous potential.
Album: Eloquence (unreleased)
This just might be peak Certain Songs right here.
Definitely on the short list of Prettiest Songs Ever Recorded, Indie Pop division, “In Your Eyes (alt. version)” is the alternative version of a song from an unreleased album that I got from Tim (I think) when he and Kirk & I used to pass around a USB drive with the latest music we’d acquired.