As singer, guitarist and songwriter of the Jayhawks, Gary Louris built a deeply compelling body of music whose artistry and integrity won the loyalty of an international audience and the respect of both critics and his peers. With Vagabonds, Louris launches his solo career on a high note, delivering a deeply felt, exquisitely-crafted set that features some of his most evocative and personally-charged work to date.
In addition to preparing to tour behind Vagabonds, Louris has been engaged in a number of varied projects, including an upcoming collaboration with fellow Jayhawks co-founder Mark Olson, with whom he previously reunited for a low-key-but rapturously received-acoustic tour in 2005.
Gary Louris began his recording career with the fabled Minneapolis indie combo Safety Last before co-founding the Jayhawks, who in their two-decade career rose from their indie roots to international prominence. Concurrent with his time in the Jayhawks, Louris was a charter member of the part-time alt-rock supergroup Golden Smog, which at various times also included members of Soul Asylum, Wilco, the Replacements and Big Star. Along the way he also found time to lend his writing, performing and production talents to albums by acts as diverse as the Black Crowes, the Dixie Chicks, Counting Crows, Joe Henry, John Hiatt, Lucinda Williams, Roger McGuinn, Maria McKee, Nickel Creek, Carrie Rodriguez, Tift Merritt, the Sadies, and the Wallflowers.
After more than 20 years with the Jayhawks and building a powerful repertoire of collaborations, Gary Louris has much to reflect upon with the release of his first-ever solo album: "I'm stepping back into my own head a little more. I think this record is a search for meaning, knowing one may never find an answer. But maybe finding the answer isn't the point. Maybe the questions are more important than the answers, and I think that is somewhat liberating. It is almost a celebration of the pain, the pain of existence."
This metaphysical element is evident in the lyrics but also in the instrumental performances, especially Grange's yearning pedal steel, which seems to occupy some previously unexplored astral terrain. Together, the backing vocals, instrumental textures and understated rhythms provide the album with its singular character. And while the resulting tracks are clearly the work of this distinctive artist, there's a previously unexplored element present as well "I thought it sounded like me," he says, "but friends I played it for said it sounded like I had moved into a different area, in a good way-that it was a different side of me."