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Gary Louris

Vagabonds – 2008 (Rykodisc)

Reviewed by Jason MacNeil

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CDs by Gary Louris

Former Jayhawk and Golden Smog member Gary Louris doesn't stray too far from his alt.-country fold with his solo debut. In fact, it might bring out a bit more of his soulful side judging by the timeless, Neil Young-leaning opener "True Blue," which also brings to mind something Ryan Adams might have considered for "Easy Tiger." The same can also be said of "We'll Get By." Produced by Black Crowes vocalist Chris Robinson, the record invites you into Louris' standard Southern roots rock with the raggedy but right "Omaha Nights" that shines effortlessly with its quasi-gospel hues.

Yet for every rowdy nugget, Louris pulls back and tones it down with another little gem, including the folksy singer-songwriter vibe pouring from "To Die A Happy Man." Louris is often assisted on songs by "The Laurel Canyon Family Choir" featuring Robinson, The Bangles' Susanna Hoffs, Jenny Lewis, Jonathan Rice and The Chapin Sisters among others. They come to the fore on the tender, haunting "She Only Calls Me On Sundays," which is fully fleshed out.

The only clunker here might be the rather deliberate, plodding "I Wanna Get High" that doesn't seem to go anywhere and sags fast. However, the title track definitely takes the album back up to snuff as Louris' glides through this Americana pleaser. An excellent record that could be considered Louris' own Southern harmony and musical companion.