Over the years, the spatial constraints of NPR’s uber-condensed Tiny Desk Concert series have been relaxed, allowing bands to attain a more and more professional sound.
But leave it to the Jayhawks to overcome the setting entirely. The tricenarian Minneapolis folk-country band's performance, released Tuesday, transformed the cluttered radio offices into a velvet-seated auditorium.
The ‘Hawks are about to tour Europe in support of their ninth studio album, Paging Mr. Proust. But before they embark, they stopped by NPR headquarters to do a four-song set replete with the band’s characteristic warmth and charm.
As far as Tiny Desk Concerts go, it’s not an anomaly for stripped-down folk bands to set up, strum a few, and kill it, though there’s something especially magnetic about Gary Louris and the crew’s set. It feels like you’re getting the highlights of Paging Mr. Proust in your living room, but at theater quality.
Lead single “Quiet Corners and Empty Spaces” was an apropos opener given the band’s confines, yet the song feels so immediate. In 30 years as a group, it’s clear the ‘Hawks -- through all their many lineup changes -- have maintained a chemistry that makes them an emotional draw.
Other songs performed include "Lovers Of The Sun," "Leaving the Monsters Behind," and the galvanizing jaunt "Comeback Kids." All are cuts from April’s Paging Mr. Proust, the band’s most well-received album since 2003’s Rainy Day Music.
Louris rapped with City Pages about Proust in June, and even (sorta) revealed a bit of phallic Minnesota music trivia.