There’ve been some changes made. Five years ago, when the lanky Idahoan made his recording debut with Introducing Spencer Day, his not-quite-jelled sound suggested peripatetic trips along the folk-rock matrix extending from Livingston Taylor to Boz Scaggs. A year later, the still-angelic-sounding Day eased into a cooler California vibe on his Movie of Your Life EP, delivering better-defined life studies like “Ernie’s Hollywood Party” and the title track. Now, just four years on, the young baritone’s voice has grown distinctly deeper and gruffer, his style looser, his songwriting sharper and stronger.
On most of the 14 tracks, particularly “25” (which bears a striking thematic similarity to Jamie Cullum’s “Twentysomething”), the restless title track, the pent-up “Everybody Knows (The Family Skeleton)” and the sweetly reflective “Summer,” Day rivals Cullum in his ability to explore coming-of-age angst and the romantic idealism of youth. Equally fine, despite unnecessarily grand arrangements built around swelling waves of strings, are the driving “Till You Come to Me” and the Thoreau-esque “Better Way.” In short, Vagabond confirms the emergence of a major new talent.