Ready for the Flood
Mark Olson and Gary Louris once formed the nucleus of the Americana-rock band the Jayhawks and their rough-hewn harmonies always kept things defiantly real even as their pop melodies sweetened the evening air. The duo split in 1995, eventually reuniting in the new century and finally in 2009 releasing their first official reunion album. They're strongest on the quiet numbers, as "Turn Your Pretty Name Around" and "Black Eyes" thrill between a spooky organ, a basic acoustic guitar pattern and the duo's frequently downcast harmonies. Producer Chris Robinson of the Black Crowes keeps things to a tight minimum, putting the songs in focus amongst the rustic pulse of "Bicycle" and the Jayhawk-reminding power of "Doves and Stones," "My Gospel Song for You," and "Kick the Wood," where it sounds as if the old friends had never been apart. The intuitive power here adds a world-weary vibe to the back porch ambience of "The Rose Society," "Chamberlain, SD" and "Bloody Hands," where dobro and acoustic guitars maintain the idyllic, bucolic scene.