The first thing that you'll notice is the look. Stu Larsen
has some taste, stealing signs from the narcotic-powered, sweet signing maniac Harry Nilsson in the style department. Check out the side-by-side.
It's a good look, Stu. More importantly, Larsen's new album Vagabond
is an even better listen. Upon pressing play you'll soon encounter other nostalgic references to "Paul Simon and his friend singing something about Mrs. Robinson on the radio", pulled from the album's brisk opener, "San Francisco'"; one of many places the intrepid, bohemian Australian no doubt spent time in in the lead up to the release of the album. See, for the last four years of Larsen's life he hasn't really had a home. No desire to step in line with the blue collar crowd, a refusal to play dress-up in the corporate game, Larsen toured, recorded, drove friends' vans, generally experiencing the day-to-day unknown of life as a traveling musician. Australia, New Zealand, Japan, the UK, Europe, North American; he's rocketed around the globe. "I don't think any of these songs would exist if I wasn't living this Vagabond
life. Each song is inspired by some place I've been or person I've met along the way." That's an explanation emailed to us from god knows where, to be completely honest with you. But it's a nice summation of the songs that follow — a collection of stories about lonely journeys, heart-pounding experiences and wide-eyed, pining, first-person observation. Vagabond
is a Kerouac-esque, declaration of living in the moment, because tomorrow there's a bag to pack, a car to gas up, and an unknown, cash-strapped highway to explore.
The record itself sounds a little more settled, however, full of pristine acoustics, warm rhythmic drives, rich pocket orchestrations, twinkly accessories, and golden-voiced melodies. If Vagabond
reminisces of the work of another backpacking folkie, Mike Rosenberk — aka Passenger — well, that's no coincidence. The two are buds. After finishing the album, both like-minded songwriters decided to record together; it was an attempt to "capture something special together," he told us. It worked, and the two decided to make the somewhat drastic decision to re-record the album Larsen had just finished in full. "I was quite attached to the original recordings and a little hesitant to re-record it all. But, after a few weeks we had locked in some studio time in Sydney and I'm very happy with the result and glad we decided to re-record."
Rosenberg's support of Larsen would prove much more involved than just production guidance on the album. "My father passed away half way through the recording process," Larsen explained. "To be honest, Mike held it all together for me. There is no way this could have happened without him." It did though and Vagabond
was released earlier this week via our friends over at Nettwerk Records.
When asked what he hopes will happen with this set of songs, Larsen seemed open-minded about the album's purpose. "I think I'd just love for people to take what they can and feel what they feel. These songs will mean different things to different people and I love that! If people connect with my journey through the album, then thats a bonus."
Lucky for you we've got some nourishment to fuel your own Vagabond
inspired journey. Take a trip or two through our no-strings-attached, stream of the entire album below.
If you like what you hear, grab the album here
, and be sure to follow Stu on Twitter
and like him on Facebook
as he continues his surreal trip.