Mark Olson & Gary Louris: Ready For The Flood

Alt-country veterans and former Jayhawks leaders Mark Olson and Gary Louris know a thing or two about playing roots music, so it’s no surprise that their reunion is strong. In fact, the few flaws that can be heard — a misfretted note here, an off-key vocal there — only add to the charm of this raw recording. This album was not meant for overdubs and multiple takes. Instead, producer Chris Robinson opted to capture the former Jayhawks in their natural state. Listening to the album feels like eavesdropping on expert musicians jamming together on the front porch of a midwestern home.

The bluesy “Kick the Wood,” featuring a swelling organ and Robinson on backing vocals, and the country rocker “Chaimberlain SD” provide good toe-tapping on that front porch, as do the uptempo country strummers “Doves and Stones” and “Bloody Hands.” However, it’s the quiet, finger-picked love songs that are the backbone of this album, songs that at times seem too personal to listen in on (“As I carry you inside this burning fire, will you be there?”). Listening to it only makes you hope that they’ll play on that front porch again soon.

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