Former Jayhawks bandmates Mark Olson and Gary Louris don’t miss a beat as they reunite on a new record after more than a decade apart.

WHEN MARK OLSON LEFT MINNEAPOLIS-BASED alt-country avatars the Jayhawks in 1995 after a decade-long run with bandmate Gary Louris, it seemed a tragic end to a great musical partnership. While Louris carried on with the band, taking it in more of a pop direction, and Olson went off to California to make homespun roots music with his wife, it still felt to fans like their story wasn’t over. “For all our little differences and growing apart,” Louris says, “there was too much still holding us together.”

Those personal and musical bonds are evident on Olson and Louris’s new album, Ready for the Flood (New West, $18). After the two first renewed their writing partnership earlier this decade for a soundtrack project, which was followed by a few successful acoustic tours, they decided to return to the studio. Musically, they pick up where they left off with this collection of beautifully melancholic folk, country-flecked, and gospel-tinged numbers. The 13 songs on the album are highlighted by the pair’s signature close-harmony singing. “It almost seems too easy, like we should be working on it harder,” Louris says. “But whenever we do, it seems to get worse. It’s just one of those things that is so natural, you kind of don’t want to mess with it.”

Though each man has a flourishing solo career and songwriting sideline gig (Louris has penned tunes for the Dixie Chicks and Nickel Creek, among others), they plan to continue their collaboration. “We came up together; we played our first shows in little bars when 12 people came,” Olson says. “We have lots of memories, lots of milestones together. And hopefully, this album is another one of them.”