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.
- Mark Olson and Gary Louris
- 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.