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Smile

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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - David Sprague
It comes as somewhat of a surprise to see this notoriously brooding band return to action with an album titled SMILE -- and even more wondrous to find that there's no irony inherent in the name. While the Minneapolis-bred quintet retains shades of the alt-country sound they pioneered in the late '80s and early '90s -- most effectively on the wizened "What Led Me to This Town" -- de facto front man Gary Louris spends a good bit of time shepherding in a more aggressive, more rhythm-based sound. A few tracks, such as the neo-psychedelic "Somewhere in Ohio," engender a retro feel; on others, including the distortion-heavy "Wildest Dreams," the vibe is utterly contemporary....
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - David Sprague
It comes as somewhat of a surprise to see this notoriously brooding band return to action with an album titled SMILE -- and even more wondrous to find that there's no irony inherent in the name. While the Minneapolis-bred quintet retains shades of the alt-country sound they pioneered in the late '80s and early '90s -- most effectively on the wizened "What Led Me to This Town" -- de facto front man Gary Louris spends a good bit of time shepherding in a more aggressive, more rhythm-based sound. A few tracks, such as the neo-psychedelic "Somewhere in Ohio," engender a retro feel; on others, including the distortion-heavy "Wildest Dreams," the vibe is utterly contemporary. Producer Bob Ezrin famed for his work with Kiss and Alice Cooper plays a considerable role in punching up the sound, but he also shows a sensitivity to the Jayhawks' well-entrenched mellow side, allowing the shimmering harmonies of keyboardist Karen Grotberg to waft up through the folksy melody of "A Break in the Clouds." They're a little less kind, a little less gentle, but the Jayhawks have never been more life-affirming than on SMILE.
All Music Guide - John Duffy
With Smile, the Jayhawks drop yet another sizable chunk of their alt-country sound by the roadside, adding in its place healthy doses of power pop and modern electronic music. Almost half of Smile's songs feature looped percussion, overdubbed drum tracks, or flat-out, funky backbeats. Little blips of sound skitter underneath the mostly acoustic guitars on the wistful "What Led Me to This Town" and make "Queen of the World" a worthy candidate for a dance remix if the Jayhawks were ever to consider such a thing. Their second record since the departure of founder and leader Mark Olson, Smile is meant as a direct reaction to the pessimism of Sound of Lies, their underappreciated, moody offering from 1997. Ironically, with the charismatic Gary Louris now fronting the group alone, they sound more like a band than ever before. Despite the modern touches, though, the fact remains that Smile retains just enough of a distinctly Americana feeling. On the warm and twangy "Better Days," one of Louris' best songs in years, he sings with genuine regret and heartache the way he treated a long ago lover, and on "Break in the Clouds" he celebrates the comforts of domestic contentment, complete with pedal steel and soaring harmonies that recall the band's landmark work Hollywood Town Hall from 1992. The general shift in direction may alienate a few long-term fans, but much like friends Wilco achieved with their adventurous Summerteeth, Smile's modern touches may bring even more people into the band's orbit. What never changes on the Jayhawks' albums, it seems, are the blissful melodies and well-constructed tunes, and that may just be enough for even the toughest critics.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 6/11/2002
  • Label: American Recordings
  • UPC: 731458694229
  • Catalog Number: 586942
  • Sales rank: 54,169

Album Credits

Performance Credits
The Jayhawks Primary Artist, Primary Artist, Primary Artist, Primary Artist, Primary Artist
Bob Ezrin Synthesizer, Percussion, Accordion, Keyboards, Vocals
Kraig Johnson Group Member
Gary Louris Group Member
Tim O'Reagan Group Member
Marc Perlman Group Member
Patrick Seymour Synthesizer
Karen Grotberg Keyboards, Vocals
Eric Heywood Dobro, Pedal Steel Guitar
Armadillo String Quartet Strings
Technical Credits
The Jayhawks Engineer
Ed Ackerson Programming, Engineer
Bob Ezrin Producer, String Arrangements
Jay Healy Engineer
Josh Cheuse Art Direction
David Katzenstein Cover Photo
Leon Zervos Mastering
Joseph Bishara Programming
Jonathan Sacks Orchestration, String Arrangements
Richard Werbowenko Programming
Ev Wollcott Programming
Frank Riley Booking
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 3 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(2)

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(1)

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    My favorite Jayhawks album

    I know most critics like the earlier Jayhawks albums like "Hollywood Town Hall" better, but this is the Jayhawks album I like best of all. It does have a bit more of a pop feel to it, and that suits me. It carries me back to my native Midwest...

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Surprise! Smile Moves in New Direction

    While this is the most polished album the Jayhawks have released, this is a very good thing. With Bob Ezrin (Pink Floyd, Peter Gabriel) behind the wheel, the Jayhawks have moved in a different direction with this album. They showed hints of this with ''Sound of Lies,'' another fantastic album, but this one has even more ''bells and whistles.'' I think this album will really surprise power pop enthusiasts, who probably totally overlook the Jayhawks. The electronic drums caught me offguard at the beginning of ''Wildest Dreams,'' but it is one catchy tune. My favorite song would have to be ''Queen of the World,'' which is a pop masterpiece. ''Ohio,'' ''Smile'',''Break in the Clouds''......all great songs. It's a great mix of upbeat pop songs and laid back country-sounding rock. I really think this album deserved more airplay. If only we lived in a perfect world. I play a few of the songs on my online radio station at Live365.com. Search for ''Stung By a Bee.'' Check it out.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    AdamH

    This could be CD of the year. It takes a few listens but really begins to grow on you. Every year we rate the top album which we enjoyed listening to the most. Outside of the really poppy ''Im gonna make you love me'', it is a pretty sophisticated effort. I recommended it to a couple of friends that loved the Golden Smog record of last year, and as much as they loved that one admit that this just a better record...but give it a few listens first before you make judgement.

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews