The Jayhawks' XOXO - a triumph for democracy

Americana veterans The Jayhawks triumph on committee-generated eleventh album XOXO

The Jayhawks: XOXO
(Image: © Sham)

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Sharing doesn’t always work in rock’n’roll bands; delegation, hierarchy and creative dictatorships have often made for more stable governments and consistent output. 

So was it brave or foolhardy of lead Jayhawk Gary Louris to “open things up” to greater writing and vocal contributions from his bandmates on this new album? 

Definitely more the former: the power-pop stomp of Dogtown Days, written by drummer Tim O’Reagan, has a gutter-bound grit but it’s gazing at the (Big) Stars; keyboard player Karen Grotberg offers echoes of Karen Carpenter on the elegantly lachrymose ballad Ruby; bassist Marc Perlman takes centre stage, wobbly voice and all, for the dreamy acoustic folk number Down To The Farm

Louris is nonetheless still on top form with Homecoming and his sublimely resigned Then You Walked Away is the pick of the three bonus tracks on the physical formats of the album. 

Three cheers for democracy!

Johnny Sharp

Johnny is a regular contributor to Prog and Classic Rock magazines, both online and in print. Johnny is a highly experienced and versatile music writer whose tastes range from prog and hard rock to R’n’B, funk, folk and blues. He has written about music professionally for 30 years, surviving the Britpop wars at the NME in the 90s (under the hard-to-shake teenage nickname Johnny Cigarettes) before branching out to newspapers such as The Guardian and The Independent and magazines such as Uncut, Record Collector and, of course, Prog and Classic Rock