Review: Mark Olson and Gary Louris

The two former Jayhawks reunite on 'Ready for the Flood' (New West)

Mark Olson and Gary Louris, Ready for the Flood

Mark Olson and Gary Louris, Ready for the Flood

Mark Olson and Gary Louris, Ready for the Flood

Mark Olson and Gary Louris, Ready for the Flood

Mark Olson and Gary Louris

Ready for the Flood (New West)

This reunion music has a casual earnestness and high level of emotion that, from my listening experience, rarely survives the studio process. The two founding/former Jayhawks sing to and for each other instead of at or over each other, as sometimes happened when they were bandmates. You can hear Louris unself-consciously adjust his harmonies once he hears where Olson plants a note. You can hear them slow-stepping their way together through lyrics that in all likelihood were only minutes old when the mic went live.

On the powerful and fine “Saturday Morning on Sunday Street” you can hear some of what life does to and for a songwriter. It’s a song of articulate longing. It should be sad by all rights. But the delicate manner in which Louris and Olson divvy up the simple fretwork and singing—here alternating lines, there making that perfect one voice out of two that you may remember—demonstrates that sadness can be the means to some better end.

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