This album set the tone not just for the rest of the Jayhawks' albums, but for the burgeoning Americana movement. When you listen to "Two Angels," there's no mistaking how Wilco owes as much to this album as to all of Uncle Tupelo. In a song like "Wichita," you can hear the roots of everything Ryan Adams has cut. "Hollywood Town Hall" is both seminal and a good listen in its own right.
But it's imperfect. There's not a lot of variation, structurally, from one disc to another. It's easy for your attention to wander and the songs to blend together. This is a shame, since each song is thematically distinct; but when the instrumentation sounds the same from track to track, you can miss it.
Some star tracks, like "Nevada, California," or "Sistar Cry," really do stand out, especially if you listen to Americana radio and have heard them before. And all the songs, with there Dylan-like opacity, suggest a much larger story behind what they tell us. This disk really presages everything good that was destined to come out of alt-country in the twelve years between this album and now.
Unfortunately, if you're not already into the genre, this isn't the album for you. But for those of us who love Americana, this is a sort of "Missing Link" album, and much worth listening to. Just remember, if your attention wanders, don't be afraid to listen to it again and again. It will grow on you, and very quickly too.