Published Mar 13, 2008For 20 critically acclaimed years, the Jayhawks were driven by Gary Louriss twin gifts of songwriting and guitar playing. But after the band ran its course following 2003s Rainy Day Music, he reunited with his alt-pop all-star band Golden Smog and worked on several other projects, including the Sadies New Seasons. When attention needed to be refocused on his own music, the Minneapolis native accepted an invitation from old friend Chris Robinson, of the Black Crowes, to produce Louriss first solo album, Vagabonds. While other artists in his position may have instinctively sought to make a quiet, introspective record, Vagabonds is instead steeped in classic sun-drenched California country-rock, aided in large part by members of Vetiver and other current practitioners of the style.
"It wasnt my intention to recapture the 70s or anything, thats just what comes out when I sing, Louris says. "Once we got the band together for the sessions, it actually reminded me of how the Jayhawks were when we started out. The music is new and exciting for them, and it was good for me to feed off of that.
Still, everything needed to serve Louriss songs, all of which again confirm his status among the elite writers of his generation. Imagining them in the hands of Robinson might give some fans pause, but Louris says he has always built trust with every producer he has worked with. "Chris did what a producer should, which was immerse himself in the project. At this point I know how to make a record, but I needed someone to give me that positive energy to get through it, and thats what hes all about. I think I headed into it with the idea of making a quiet record, but things really grew as the band got involved. It all just got sounding so good that the band became a key ingredient to every song.