Tim O’Reagan ( Lost Highway, 2006 )
Unslushed because: The name sounded familiar, and Lost Highway is usually a safe bet. My mom likes most of their stuff, too. That’s not a dig on Lost Highway: My mom’s a cool lady.
Factors not initially considered: This album came out two years ago. My mom might already have it.
On further review: A solid solo debut from former Jayhawk drummer Tim O’Reagan, who joined those jangly Minneapolitian harmonizers just after 1995’s Tomorrow the Green Grass. Here, you’d expect music in the same honey-voiced vein, and for the first few tracks—the harmonium-introduced “These Things,” the strum-and-harmonica “Black & Blue”—you’d be right. But underneath the burdensome alt-country mantle, the Jayhawks were also highly effective pop writers: hooks, bridges, perfect choruses with perfect vocal arrangements. As this album progresses, we hear O’Reagan channel the Beatles, especially George Harrison, on songs like “River Bends” and “Girl/World.” Things get a little blurry toward the end, one song sounding a little bit like the one before it, and yes, perhaps it’s true that there’s more exciting music out there than the two-year-old debut from the Jayhawks’ nonfounding drummer. But if one of O’Reagan’s songs comes up on shuffle, you might be surprised at what a little gem it is.