Stu Larsen - Vagabond
'Travelling troubadour' - a phrase designed to send a shiver through the soul. Well, even if you can’t stop quivering you should still be able to get onside with Stu Larsen's delightful new album. With observations of cities and people far and wide, its a musical travelogue and, produced by his good friend Passenger (aka Mike Rosenberg), has a familiar soft-folk feel to it. Larsen has a way with melodies though that raises it a notch.
Whether its opening track ‘San Francisco’’s tales of love and displacement, or the commentary on disposable society – both things (“All I see is people running round / Buying shit they don’t need”) and people (“Well I’m wandering these city streets / There’s nothing here for me”) - of ‘King Street’ there are weighty themes handled with care. More traditional folk fare like ‘Thirteen Sad Farewells’ also benefit from Larsen’s sure touch with tracks like ‘Far Away From Here’ whipping along at a pace. The Australian really hits his stride over the second half of the album: ‘Some Kind Of Gypsy’ with its repeated “I need your love” refrain, is an up-tempo apology song; ‘Darling If You’re Down’ is catchy; ‘Maybe I Am’ sad, and the six minute ‘Skin & Bone’ is contemplative. On the face of it, Vagabond has all the ingredients (whimsical folk, Passenger-produced, etc) to be a bit trite, but happily it’s actually the complete opposite.