Mark Olson And Gary Louris: 'Pretty' Voices

Wednesday's Pick

  • Song: "Turn Your Pretty Name Around"
  • Artist: Mark Olson and Gary Louris
  • CD: Ready for the Flood
  • Genre: Folk-Pop
Mark Olson and Gary Louris 300

hide caption"Turn Your Pretty Name Around" displays Mark Olson and Gary Louris' still-miraculous harmonies to great effect.

courtesy of the artist

The Jayhawks' members were alt-country flag-bearers back when being an alt-country flag-bearer was still a big deal. Dual frontmen Mark Olson and Gary Louris had the best harmonies in the business — few others even came close — and when Olson left the band in 1995, neither he nor The Jayhawks were ever the same. After inching towards a rapprochement over the past few years, Louris and Olson have collaborated on Ready for the Flood, an almost-acoustic, not-quite-reunion disc. Produced by The Black Crowes' Chris Robinson, it's got a ramshackle, offhanded feel: It sounds like what might have happened had Simon & Garfunkel made a record in Laurel Canyon in 1998.

While Flood lacks the characteristic warmth of The Jayhawks' full-band recordings, it possesses moments of true, un-fussed-over beauty, chief among them the slight, somber "Turn Your Pretty Name Around." Perhaps more than any other track, it displays the duo's still-miraculous harmonies to great effect; if it doesn't do much else, it doesn't really need to. It's a woeful and meditative tale of a relationship gone wrong that's both a great song in its own right and a compelling argument for getting the old band back together.

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Ready for the Flood

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  • Album: Ready for the Flood
  • Artist: Mark Olson/Gary Louris
  • Label: New West
  • Released: 2009
 

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