Gary Louris: Vagabond (Ryko/Elite)

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Gary Louris: She Only Calls Me On Sundays
Gary Louris: Vagabond (Ryko/Elite)

Louris was a founder of the cornerstone alt.country band the Jayhawks whose career in the 90s saw them weave their way from country-rock to post-grunge rock and sometimes pure pop

They were hard to get a bead on but that was the great pleasure of their career.

With the Jayhawks seemingly on hold Louris steps out for a debut album under his own name, but manages to get plenty of help from the likes of former Black Crowes singer Chris Robinson who here co-produces and appears in "the Laurel Canyon Family Choir" alongside Jenny Watson, Susanna Hoffs and others.

Given the breadth of the Jayhawks' reach it is no surprise that Louris here embraces everything from quiet acoustic-framed balladry (To Die A Happy Man which has a hand-clap faux-gospel coda) to straight ahead country-rock and some lachrymose pedal steel guitar ballads (She Only Calls Me On Sundays which briefly leans on a John Denver melody). There's also a countryfied Lennonesque quality in places (the Abbey Road widescreen of We'll Get By, Double Fantasy-ballad style on the echoed Black Grass), a whisper of psychedelia (I Wanna Get High) and some defeated political sensibilities (the lovely DC Blues).

Despite that seeming diversity, Vagabond is held together by the sheer ease with which Louris accomplishes this.

As with his bandmate in the occasional side-project Golden Smog -- Jeff Tweedy of Wilco -- Louris sounds at an uneasy peace with himself right now.

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