Tag Archives: Phil Vassar

Retro Single Review: Tim McGraw, "My Next Thirty Years"

2000 | Peak: #1

Age forty is still seen as more of a milestone, but age thirty might be the best place to neatly divide your life.

McGraw captures that feeling of settling in to who you're going to be, and the growing confidence that you're really an adult and that you've somewhat established yourself.

Suddenly, you look back on the ridiculous things you've done in your twenties with amusement and appreciation, like you're looking back on a different person who you're quite fond of but can no  longer completely relate to.   It's a moment in time when you've gathered your necessary life skills and still have enough energy to put them to use.

Who could be a better vehicle for this song than McGraw? He was 32 when he recorded it, and was enjoying unparalleled success at country radio, while also starting a family with fellow superstar Faith Hill.   “My Next Thirty Years” was his twelfth #1 single in only seven years, and his seventh to spend four weeks or more at #1, a run absolutely unheard of in the modern era of country radio.

He sings with the confidence of a man on the top of his game, completely unaware of the fact that he'd one day sing “Truck Yeah.”

Written by Phil Vassar

Grade: A

Next: Let's Make Love (with Faith Hill)

Previous: Some Things Never Change

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Retro Single Review: Tim McGraw, “For a Little While”

1998 | Peak: #2

As far as the Everywhere hits are concerned, this sixth and final single is the most frothy and least substantial.

That’s not to say it isn’t an entertaining listen, and in a way, it might be the most historically significant of the singles, given that it’s the blueprint for countless Kenny Chesney hits that followed.

Written by Steve Mandile, Jerry Vandiver, and Phil Vassar

Grade: B

Next: Please Remember Me

Previous: Where the Green Grass Grows

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Single Review: David Nail, “The Sound of a Million Dreams”

David Nail’s new single “The Sound of a Million Dreams,” from his current album of the same name, could be seen as something of a musical mission statement.  It is a tribute and testament to the power of a well-crafted, deeply resonant song.

Though the song references Bob Seger, Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run,” and Merle Haggard’s “Mama Tried,” it does so in a way that enhances the song’s meaning, as opposed to using such references as a crutch.  The narrator relates how such songs affect him emotionally, describing their ability to dredge up memories of his past – fond memories as well as painful ones.  The lyric begins on a light note, relating how Seger’s “Main Street” brings back pleasant memories of a former flame.  From there the song moves into deadly serious territory, as Nail looks back regretfully on the mistakes of his youth, saying that “When I hear ‘Mama Tried’ I still break down and cry and pull to the side of the road.”

Such thoughts and feelings move the singer to reflect on his own role as a musician, expressing the hope that “Maybe my voice will cut through the noise and stir up an old memory.”  The song squarely hits its target by using imagery that lends it a personal, relatable feel, with the narrator detailing how he personally is affected by the songs he has grown up with.  Perhaps the biggest thing the song gets right is that it taps into actual tangible emotions, as opposed to rudimentary, superficial details.

Though a portion of Nail’s past work has been marred by overproduction, such issues are nowhere to be found on this song.  Instead, we get a straightforward piano ballad with touches of steel guitar, which allows the song’s story to effectively resonate without needless distractions.  Nail for his part has already proven himself to be a gifted vocalist, but he has hardly sounded better than he does here.  Bolstered by a truly great lyric and a tasteful production, he shines with his strong, heartfelt, sincere performance.  Though he didn’t write the song himself (Scooter Carusoe and Phil Vassar did), Nail’s performance hints at a deep connection to the intent of the lyric.  The result ranks as easily Nail’s finest single to date, not to mention a shoo-in for my ‘Best of 2012′ list.

As he expresses in song the hope that his music will touch others in the same way that the music of his past has touched him, Nail reaches out to his listeners by putting all of himself into his performance, and in so doing, he just might have achieved that very goal.

Written by Scooter Carusoe and Phil Vassar

Grade:  A

Listen:  The Sound of a Million Dreams

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Phil Vassar, “Everywhere I Go”

PhilVSomewhere underneath “Everywhere I Go” is a great song, but to find it, you have to dig a little too deep. The song’s pleasing melody and bittersweet lyrics –Vassar sings of haunting, lingering memories of a lost love– are coated with layers of dramatic, distracting production. Even the conviction Vassar brings to the song starts to feel slightly artificial when he pushes his vocals over the top in the chorus, the most off-putting aspect of the song.

It’s just one of those songs that begs for a scrub down. I suspect an acoustic version of this song would be infinitely more poignant, interesting and distinct – qualities Vassar has effectively encompassed in numerous songs in his career.

Written by Jeffrey Steele & Phil Vassar

Grade: C+

Listen: Everywhere I Go

Buy:

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Phil Vassar, "Bobbi with an I"

phil-vassarI’ve had to listen to this song several times

just to be sure it was real and not just an insane figment of my imagination. But alas, whether I like it or not, it is real and I’m the one who has been charged with the task of attributing words from the English language to this strange composition, which suddenly seems limiting. So, please excuse my casual tone just this once, because I’m going to have to forgo the formal conventions of a review in order to even come close to adequately describing this song.

“Bobby With an I” is about a cross dresser. Bobby is a man’s man during the week, but he turns into Bobbi when the work week is through. He makes such a convincing woman that “you better watch how much you drink/He might look better than you think.” Right.

Despite how others may feel about the somewhat subversive topic, it is actually a redeeming quality of the song. While it’s treated very lightly here, it is still likely to offend the sensibilities of some disapproving country music listeners. However, what offends my sensibilities is the execution of the song in general.

When the song begins, it almost sounds as though Vassar is getting ready to launch into Offspring’s “Pretty Fly for A White Guy” (Remember that song?). But then we suddenly switch to a bunch of consecutive “ha ha, ah ah’s” before finally getting to the meat of the song, which is all accompanied by a catchy, but soon to become annoying, melody and production. As if the funky production and kitschy lyrics aren’t bewildering enough, Vassar’s voice just can’t seem to rise to the occasion of hitting certain notes without obviously straining beyond his capabilities as a vocalist.

With all of that said, there’s an unexplainable addictive quality to this song that has forced me to hit repeat over and over again. I’m confident, however, that it’s not a guilty pleasure, but rather, disbelief that such a wacky song not only exists, but has been released to radio and didn’t stay hidden as an eccentric album track. In fact, while “You could have heard a chin drop/the minute he (Bobby…err…Bobbi) walked in”, you could have seen a chin drop the minute I heard this song.

Grade: N/A

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I’ve had to listen to this song several times just to be sure it was real and not just an insane figment of my imagination. But alas, whether I like it or not, it is real and I’m the one who has been charged with the task of attributing words from the English language to this strange composition, which suddenly seems limiting. So, please excuse my casual tone just this once, because I’m going to have to forgo the formal conventions of a review in order to even come close to adequately describing this song.
“Bobby With an I” is about a cross dresser. Bobby is a man’s man during the week, but he turns into Bobbi when the work week is through. He makes such a convincing woman that “you better watch how much you drink/He might look better than you think.” Right.
Despite how others may feel about the somewhat subversive topic, it is actually a redeeming quality of the song. While it’s treated very lightly here, it is still likely to offend the sensibilities of some disapproving country music listeners. However, what offends my sensibilities is the execution of the song in general.
When the song begins, it almost sounds as though Vassar is getting ready to launch into Offspring’s “Pretty Fly for A White Guy” (Remember that song?). But then we suddenly switch to a bunch of consecutive “ha ha, ah ah’s” before finally getting to the meat of the song, which is all accompanied by a catchy, but soon to become annoying, melody and production. As if the funky production and kitschy lyrics aren’t bewildering enough, Vassar’s voice just can’t seem to rise to the occasion of hitting certain notes without obviously straining beyond his capabilities as a vocalist.
With all of that said, there’s an unexplainable addictive quality to this song that has forced me to hit repeat over and over again. I’m confident, however, that it’s not a guilty pleasure, but rather, disbelief that such a wacky song not only exists, but has been released to radio and didn’t stay hidden as an eccentric album track. In fact, while “You could have heard a chin drop/the minute he (Bobby…err…Bobbi) walked in”, you could have seen a chin drop the minute I heard this song.
Grade: N/A
Listen: Bobby With an I
Path:

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CMA Flashback: Horizon Award (New Artist)

For a look back at the other major categories, visit our CMA Awards page.

2010

  • Luke Bryan
  • Easton Corbin
  • Jerrod Neimann
  • Chris Young
  • Zac Brown Band

Usually there isn’t this much turnover in this race unless most of last year’s nominees are ineligible.  This year, only one of the four eligible nominees from last year – Zac Brown Band – earns a nomination.  With their massive success and their multiple nominations, they’ve got an excellent shot at winning. Then again, Easton Corbin is elsewhere on the ballot, too. It could be a horse race.
2009

  • Randy Houser
  • Jamey Johnson
  • Jake Owen
  • Darius Rucker
  • Zac Brown Band

Thirteen years after winning the Best New Artist Grammy as part of Hootie & The Blowfish, Darius Rucker won the country music equivalent, adding an exclamation point to the most successful pop-to-country crossover in a generation.

lady-antebellum2008

  • Jason Aldean
  • Rodney Atkins
  • Lady Antebellum
  • James Otto
  • Kellie Pickler

The industry favorites Lady Antebellum became the fourth band in history to win this award, following Rascal Flatts, Dixie Chicks and Sawyer Brown.

2007

  • Jason Aldean
  • Rodney Atkins
  • Little Big Town
  • Kellie Pickler
  • Taylor Swift

In the year since winning the Horizon Award, Swift has solidified her position as the genre’s most successful rising star.  While her debut album hasn’t reached the sales heights of the first discs by previous winners Carire Underwood and Gretchen Wilson, Swift is still one of the genre’s only significant sellers.

2006

  • Miranda Lambert
  • Little Big Town
  • Sugarland
  • Josh Turner
  • Carrie Underwood

I had a sneaking suspicion that Josh Turner was going to take this home, but as I’ve said before, Carrie’s got the best pipes since Trisha Yearwood. That she’ was acknowledged for that at such an early stage of her career is pretty amazing. Somehow I think the thrill of winning Horizon was short-lived, as winning Female Vocalist the same night left that memory in the dust.

2005

  • Dierks Bentley
  • Big & Rich
  • Miranda Lambert
  • Julie Roberts
  • Sugarland

Four of these five were nominees again the following year, and all in categories besides just Horizon, though Lambert got another shot at that as well. I think Big & Rich and Sugarland are making the most interesting music, and they’re moving more units than Bentley, though he’s no slouch himself. The CMA showed good judgment this year.

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Phil Vassar, “I Would”

Phil Vassar’s, “I Would” kicks off with up-tempo piano and fiddles. In fact, the whole song moves at a pretty fast clip.

The problem with this is that the supposed regret of the lyrics isn’t supported by the pace of the song, which makes the lyrics rather pointless. To make matters even worse, despite the arrangement that is obviously meant to exude energy, the song still manages to be bland and forgettable.

Written by Phil Vassar

Grade: C

Listen: I Would

Buy: I Would

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