Now Olson and Louris are touring again with a new album. Ready for the Flood was recorded two years ago and mostly written in summer 2006. Just months earlier, Olson and his wife had divorced. No surprise, then, that Ready for the Flood is quieter, humbler, sadder than a Jayhawks record. “You’ve gone and let someone turn your pretty name around,” Olson sings, distilling romantic disillusion and jealousy after betrayal.
This is the first time Olson and Louris have recorded as a duo, just two guys and two guitars facing each other. The album is hushed and intimate. They’re finding solace in each other’s company and measuring what’s changed. They’re trying new sounds: spooky guitar echoes on “When the Wind Comes Up,” and a wispy and wistful duet, “Saturday Morning on Sunday Street,” that sounds like a Simon and Garfunkel album track.
I think when Olson and Louris play the Ark on Tuesday, February 3, the contrasts and connections between their old and new songs will be more interesting than at most songwriters’ reunions. The Jayhawks classics, with their resilience and operatic sweep, will illuminate and uplift the new, quiet songs—just as old friendships can rekindle something we thought we’d lost.
[Originally published in February, 2009.]