The Jayhawks

Rainy Day Music (Lost Highway)

Although it sounds like "classic" Jayhawks more than anything since Tomorrow the Green Grass, Rainy Day Music is the first post-Mark Olson Jayhawks record not haunted by Olson's absence. Even on the Jayhawks' huge, pop-driven Smile, loyal fans scoured and deconstructed all 48 tracks of the mix, believing Olson's voice must be hidden in there somewhere. On Rainy Day, fans will get so lost in Gary Louris's cloudy contemplations that they'll surrender their memories of the group's previous incarnations.

Jakob Dylan's harmonies help carry the gospel growl of "Come to the River," and former Long Ryder Stephen McCarthy adds steel guitar touches throughout. All of the contributors fit comfortably, sounding like invited guests rather than intruders. But the best tracks come from original Jayhawks Tim O'Regan and Marc Perlman, whose beautifully harmonic compositions sound intimate, immediate, and warm, as if they were born spontaneously in front of a living-room fireplace.