Gary Louris: Vagabonds

The name Gary Louris may be unfamiliar, but those of us that were into the various “alternative” music scenes in the mid-1990s have heard him before. Louris was a founding member of Jayhawks and joined musicians from Wilco, The Replacements, Big Star, Son Volt, and Soul Asylum to form the supergroup Golden Smog. Louris has also written songs for Chris Thile and Dixie Chicks. Vagabonds is Gary’s debut solo release and its soulful, organic sound lives up to the impressive legacy of his past projects. Louris is backed by his all-star “Laurel Canyon Family Choir” comprised of producer Chris Robinson of The Black Crowes, Susanna Hoffs of The Bangles, Rilo Kiley’s Jenny Lewis, The Chapin Sisters, and Johnathan Rice among others.


I need a picture of my cherished love between my fingers
I grasp for fragments & I grasp for air in drowning chambers

The chorus of the opener “True Blue” has more than a hint of Jayhawks’ “Blue”, but the verses sprawl in a deeper Americana corner dusted with surging waves of piano. “Omaha Nights” has a catchier roots rock rhythm. The lovely “To Die A Happy Man” seems to be a pensive long distance love song, but hints at deeper contemplations.

The gorgeous harmony of the aforementioned “Laurel Canyon Family Choir” is most clearly heard on the steel teared stand out “She Only Calls Me On Sundays”. The smoother melody of “We’ll Get By” and the dulcet, delicate purity of “Black Grass” is the closest to pop that the album ever gets.

Most artists push weaker tracks to the middle and back of their albums, but Vagabonds only gets stronger as it drifts along. The dusky title track and the sweetly steeled “D.C. Blues” coast into a softer sound, but their sparse beauty is even more striking than the thicker arrangements that precede them.

Gary Louris – Black Grass (mp3 expired)
Gary Louris – Vagabonds (mp3 expired)

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