A vagabond is a drifter, someone who wanders with no specific course. A Slack-Key Vagabond, on the other hand, is someone who drifts with the purpose of collecting tunes for the Hawaiian-style guitar. Mika'ele McClellan, in fact, traveled all over the world, gathering instrumentals from Israel, Scotland, and Japan. The album begins with the self-penned "Mallonnee Slack Key March," a catchy piece that floats along like a lazy fall day, while the lovely "Gaelic Medley" includes "A Londonerry Air," which many will identify as "Danny Boy." On the majority of the cuts, McClellan plays solo, giving the music an intimate quality. His clean, quiet style also carefully emphasizes the melody of each piece, making sure individual notes are full and clear. Several tunes will be familiar, even if one has never heard of slack-key guitar. "Never on Sunday" comes from the 1960 movie of the same name, and "Waltzing Matilda" qualifies as Australia's informal national anthem. Since there is no standard tuning for slack-key style, McClellan utilizes a number of different alternations, the most common being D/G/D/G/B/D. One doesn't need to be crazy about Hawaiian guitar or an aspiring player to enjoy Slack-Key Vagabond. McClellan's gentle approach is always tasteful and easy on the ears.
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AllMusic Review by Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.