Listen: A Conversation with The Jayhawks' Karen Grotberg
On coming up with a name for their 11th album, The Jayhawks' keyboardist Karen Grotberg recalls, "Everybody had been brainstorming. We looked throuh people's lyrics trying to find something. Finally Gary (Louris) just threw out a bunch of stuff in an email and one of them was 'XOXO' and I said, 'Hey, go for that'!" Boom! Done!
“It was time to open things up,” says Gary Louris. “The Jayhawks are a true band, one where everyone’s an equal, and we wanted to make a record that really reflected that.”
Featuring writing and lead vocal contributions from all four members, The Jayhawks’ extraordinary new album, XOXO, is the most diverse and wide-ranging in the group’s storied history. Rather than marking a sonic departure, though, the collection signals a sharpening of focus for the band, an elevation in understanding of who they are and what they do best. In classic Jayhawks fashion, the songs here mix the influence of American roots music with British invasion and jangly power-pop, but there’s a newfound vitality at play, as well, an invigoration of confidence and energy that could only come with the injection of fresh blood. The result is an album that, much like the band’s lush harmonies, brings multiple distinctive voices together into a singular whole, a collection that, ironically enough, finds unity in individuality and identity in reinvention.