The Albatross

For his debut, Gary Stier has brought along a few friends, including Jayhawk Gary Louris, Heartbreakers guitarist Mike Campbell, and former John Mellencamp drummer Kenny Aronoff.

For his debut, Gary Stier has brought along a few friends, including Jayhawk Gary Louris, Heartbreakers guitarist Mike Campbell, and former John Mellencamp drummer Kenny Aronoff. Such familiar faces accurately suggest this newcomer's type of roots-rock sound, which is beautifully manifested in lead track "This Ain't Nowhere." Early history in a Stones cover band is evident, too, on a sparkling debut that also owes much to Springsteen and Highway 61 Revisited-era Dylan. In fact, "Coming Up Roses" features the guitar filigree of "Like a Rolling Stone," with kudos here surely going to James Taylor producer Danny Kortchmar, who also chimes in on guitar and dobro. Stier's bio is of the hard-luck variety, and his lyrics portray him in the "tortured poet king" vein of his song "Miss America & I." But the arrangements and production values are so warm and bright that the symbolically titled The Albatross is anything but a downer. Racked by Bayside.—JB