Mark Olson & Gary Louris CD reviewed by James Jackson Toth

Music Reviews
Mark Olson & Gary Louris CD reviewed by James Jackson Toth
Jul 2, 2009, 09:51

Mark Olson & Gary Louris - Ready for the Flood


A new solo album by either Gary Louris or Mark Olsen is always an exciting proposition, but the prospect of an album by the two former Jayhawks in actual collaboration is practically cause for celebration. Down In The Flood is exactly that, and doesn't disappoint. The ethereal, undeniable chemistry between the two songwriters has not diminished over time. When Louris and Olson join together to harmonize on the chorus of "Bicycle," it's as if no time has passed since their voices blended so beautifully on "Blue" or "Crowded In The Wings." The Black Crowes' Chris Robinson is a sympathetic producer, and allows the songs to stand mostly unadorned. The gritty, live acoustic sound is a welcome change from the more polished production of the final Jayhawks albums, and picks up where Louris' underrated solo turn Vagabonds (also produced by Robinson) leaves off.  A song like "Black Eyes" really doesn't require much more than Louris and Olsen playing and singing in harmony, and Robinson is intuitive enough to know that any adornment would seem tacky and superfluous. While I don't exactly hear the much-discussed English folk influence here, and Louris and Olsen get away with a few things an Americana new-jack might not be able to (there's a gospel song called, err "A Gospel Song For You"), it's a treat to hear these two burying the hatchet and creating beautiful music together again. Spectacular. [New West]

-James Jackson Toth


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