Music

[Americana]

Mark Olson & Gary Louris

Ready For the Flood

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Mark Olson and Gary Louris
Patrick Donnelly

Two decades ago, Minnesotans Mark Olson and Gary Louris helped launch the alt-country movement with their band The Jayhawks. Creative tension then split the singer-songwriters before they could build on their critical buzz.

Louris soldiered on through three more Jayhawks records and last year’s well-received solo outing, while Olson mostly spun his wheels in collaborations with now-ex-wife Victoria Williams before recording his own solo effort in 2007. All the while, longtime fans clung to rumors that the ice had thawed in the Olson-Louris relationship; now, Ready for the Flood provides a taste of what they’d missed.

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Mark Olson and Gary Louris
Three and a half stars
Beyond the Weekly
Mark Olson & Gary Louris

Their trademark harmonies are better than ever, with Olson’s nasal baritone blending into Louris’ fragile tenor to evoke the early Jayhawks’ best. Flood sticks to a lo-fi folk sound rich with acoustic guitars and the occasional Hammond organ, but producer Chris Robinson (of the Black Crowes) coaxes the best from their aging, but still-urgent, voices in tracks that recall Simon & Garfunkel and early Van Morrison.

As for the big question—whether the reunion will endure—only time will tell. But Ready for the Flood sure sounds like a good (re-)start.

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Previous Discussion:

  • “This record has very little insecurity. It was a blast to make, and it’s really fun to play live.”

  • Anyone who discovered COC at the band’s popular height should be satisfied with this effective return to the familiar.

  • Bassist Nate Brenner partners with leader Merrill Garbus for an approachable and dancey record.

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