Another new CD

Gary Louris and Mark Olson– Ready for the Flood

Once upon a time, there was a band called the Jayhawks. And nobody ever heard of them. Except a few people who really liked them. They were folksy and twangy and rocked a bit. And there were two major singers/songwriters in this band, Gary Louris and Mark Olson. In 1995, after the best album the band had ever made, Olson left the band. Louris soldiered on, kind of remade the band in his image, they made a couple more great albums that nobody ever heard and about 2004, they disbanded.

2009 brings Louris and Olson back together for the first time on record. They got back together for the first time on tour in 2005, during which my wife Julie and I, actor Steve Zahn, and a couple hundred other Jayhawks fans congregated in a tiny and now extinct club in Lexington, KY, and enjoyed this musical reunion. In the world of Jayhawks fans, this was the equivalent of a Lennon/McCartney reunion tour in 1979.

I’m sure Ready for the Flood will go essentially unnoticed by virtually everyone. In a lot of ways, this is the anti-Springsteen album. It is awaited by few, and will be heard by even less. There is no hype machine, and in fact, this album was held up for a few months while labels scrambled to not release it.

This disc is about two old friends, doing what they do best– crafting hooky dozey melodies and harmonizing like brothers. There’s nothing very exciting about this record, but it is quietly, steadily proficient and beautiful. The Jayhawks, or at least the guts of the group, are growing old gracefully.

“Bloody Hands” is the standout track of the album. Over a bluegrassy mandolin riff, the duo serenely intone, “What the mind forgets/The soul retains/All my love is in vain.” If the Jayhawks aren’t exactly back, they’re as close as they’re likely to ever come.



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