Published Jul 15, 2014Having signed to Nettwerk, Australian singer-songwriter Stu Larsen documents his life on the road on his debut full-length, Vagabond. The result is a record of self-imposed loneliness, with strangers along the way, but also one that's firmly rooted in a sense of place. Larsen may feel "Far Away From Here," on the album's middle track, but on songs like "San Francisco," "King Street" and "Ferry to Dublin," the musician exudes a you-know-where-to-find-me kind of vibe.
In other words, the travel narrative here is so intimately tied to Larsen's seeming reluctance to leave that it's almost hard to believe him when he sings "I'm moving on/ I'm moving on/ When you wake up in the morning / Darling I'll be gone," in part because he warns well beforehand when he'll be heading to the airport and that, by this time tomorrow, he'll be in "the old town square in Bruge" ("Pocket Full of Coins").
On track three, it takes "Thirteen Sad Farewells" before he's gone. On "Maybe I Am," he's still announcing his imminent departure and on the last track he insists "I Will Wait No More." Larsen, the world traveler, has created the album version of "the slow leave" or, better yet, the world-weary soundtrack for the guy who was gone most of the time but never really left.
Larsen sounds incredible, his stripped-down, often upbeat instrumentation shimmers from beginning to end, nowhere better than on the standout track "Skin and Bone," on which he admits, with one foot out the door, that he hates farewells. Recorded in Sydney at the venerated Linear Studios and co-produced by Chris Vallejo and friend and label-mate Mike Rosenberg (aka Passenger), Larsen is well known in Australia and is certain to leave North Americans wishing he'd stick around a while. (Nettwerk)