Jayhawks Principals Ready New Album

While the Jayhawks may me be no more, the lauded Americana band's formerly estranged principals Gary Louris and Mark Olson have finished a new album together.

While the Jayhawks may me be no more, the lauded Americana band's formerly estranged principals Gary Louris and Mark Olson have finished a new album together, their first since the 1995 Jayhawks classic "Tomorrow the Green Grass."

Titled "Ready for the Flood," the album was produced by Black Crowes singer Chris Robinson, who also helmed Louris' new solo debut, "Vagabonds," released earlier this week on Ryko.

"Ready for the Flood" was recorded in Los Angeles in January 2007, but Louris and Olson decided to delay its release, to prevent it detracting from their respective new solo releases. Hacktone Records issued Olson's "The Salvation Blues" in June.

"We're hoping it will come out either in the summer or the fall," Louris says of "Ready for the Flood." "It's taken a backseat to his solo record and my solo record. I'm not really sure if we're putting it out ourselves or if we're going to get a label involved. It's great. I love it -- we did it in eight days."

Explaining why Robinson was the right producer for the project, Louris tells Billboard.com, "We needed someone who was a bit of a fan, who could guide us through this kind of an emotional record, and Chris just came to mind. We trusted him, and we knew he would handle the music with care. We knew that he would bring to the project what we needed: confidence, decisiveness and vibey-ness."

The process went so well that Louris asked Robinson to produce "Vagabonds," which features backup vocals from Rilo Kiley's Jenny Lewis and Susanna Hoffs of the Bangles.

For the band's first decade, the Jayhawks were defined by the harmonizing and the co-writing of Olson and Louris. But Olson departed following the band's tour behind "Tomorrow the Green Grass," widely considered the band's best album.

The two didn't work together again until October 2001, when they convened at Olson's then-home in Joshua Tree, Calif., to write a group of songs for the 2002 film "The Rookie." While they were never used in the film (one appeared on Olson's 2002 album "December's Child"), that session eventually led to a series of live shows over the past few years, and eventually "Ready for the Flood."

"I think it was one of the better experiences in my life," Louris says of those shows with Olson. "Just the fact that you had this close working relationship with somebody that went sour, and you kind of didn't talk for a number of years, and you had pretty much given it up. To then get a second chance here as friends and collaborators is pretty great. By touring, we got to know each other again, and to this day, now, we're just good of friends as we ever were."

Louris begins his inaugural U.S. solo tour March 16 in Seattle.