Vagabond Lovers

When I Was You

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The San Francisco-based Vagabond Lovers are in the business of highly competent, polite folk-rock; reference points include 10,000 Maniacs (with a much better and less pretentious singer) and Richard & Linda Thompson (by way of Knots and Crosses). When I Was You starts off awkwardly, with the strangely juvenile elocution of "Junkie" and the rather tuneless "Midnight Radio," but things improve significantly about halfway through: the band's surprise version of the Cars' "Drive" is a moody, shimmering delight, and it's bracketed by two of the band's best originals, "Living Independently" and "A Thousand Different Reasons," the first of which is a regretful rumination on a disappointing choice of a domestic partner, while the second sounds like a vow to stick by that choice regardless. Then comes "I Got Killed," a cool and slightly creepy Latin-tinged reflection on maturation and death. Very nice.

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