Mark Olson & Gary Louris Ready For The Flood

Mark Olson & Gary Louris Ready For The Flood
From the opening harmonies on leadoff track "The Rose Society," fans of the original Jayhawks will swoon over this reunion of that seminal alt-country group's two founding members, their first collaboration on record together since 1995. Perhaps as a reflection of that, Ready For The Flood sounds a bit hesitant overall, as any reunion between two old friends always is. But this predominantly stark acoustic collection captures something that the early Jayhawks albums never did: vulnerability that only now is able to be revealed due to Olson and Louris's shared experiences apart from each other. Those familiar with each of their recent solo releases - Olson's The Salvation Blues and Louris's Vagabonds - will be sufficiently prepared for Ready For The Flood's pared down production. While that may not sit well with some die-hard fans, it makes each of the album's 13 tracks a tiny gem that demands closer inspection in order to reveal its beauty. In particular, Louris's newfound fondness for acoustic finger picking forms the basis of two of the album's strongest songs: "Saturday Morning On Sunday Street" and "Black Eyes." But it's when Olson takes the lead on "Doves And Stones" that one is poignantly reminded of how effortlessly the two complement each other. It's tempting to assume that they will want to build on this first step but if this ends up being the last word in the Jayhawks's story, Olson and Louris couldn't have written it with more class and dignity. (New West)