One-Armed Candy Bear

Au Pair

Sham/Thirty Tigers Records, 2016

REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen


Au Pair (not to be confused with the '70s post-punk outfit Au Pairs from England) is the pairing of Gary Louris (The Jayhawks, Golden Smog) and Django Haskins (The Old Ceremony). Now, if you're at all in tune with folky, rootsy, Americana sounds, just hearing the name Gary Louris attached to a project means it will likely be somewhere between great and magnificent. If the popularity of musicians was solely based on talent, every person in the world would own at least one album by The Jayhawks.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

But I digress.

“In Every Window” leads off the album with computer sounds before the breezy harmonies and acoustic guitars get to the heart of the song, with both vocalists contributing to the synthetic versus organic. This first song really splits the difference between the full time bands of Louris and Haskins, but that quickly changes with the dreamy, haunting “One Eyed Crier,” which is certainly more The Old Ceremony than The Jayhawks.

Where the Louris influence really shines through is on the sparse and Jayhawks-esque “Night Falls Early” and “Waiting For The First Time,” both of which could be demo outtakes to Tomorrow The Green Grass. And speaking of demos, the spontaneous, back-to-basics approach here really works well. Primarily acoustic guitars and two voices (bass and traditional percussion are absent), the pair’s sound is somewhere between rock, pop, and folk, often mirroring greats like the Beatles on classic pop of  “Middle Distance” or any number of '70s folk stars on “Make An Entrance.”

Mostly, though, Au Pair doesn’t stray too far from their self-described Everly Brothers meets Pink Floyd, embracing lo-fi and quirky tendencies that are fun despite the occasional darker atmospheres. While this is unlikely to reach the greatness of anything Louris has done as a Jayhawk (I can't speak of how it compares to the lesser-known The Old Ceremony), it certainly will tide fans of The Jayhawks over until a new album arrives.

Rating: B

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