Phil Vassar has all the time thought of himself a songwriter first—regardless that he has a 20-year solo profession numbering 10 albums (together with compilations and different albums) and numerous excursions.
However this winter, Vassar the artist is doing extra to showcase “Vassar the songwriter” than any level since his self-titled debut album arrived in 2000. First, there’s an early 2020 tour that may discover Vassar enjoying in a stripped again format that may enable him to freely work together with audiences and share tales in regards to the songs he performs.
“I imply, how enjoyable is that?” Vassar says of the tour. “It’s like be a songwriter once more, and simply rise up there and it’s all in regards to the tune and never what number of video screens and lights, what I’m saying. It’s all in regards to the tune once more. I adore it.”
As well as, Vassar will quickly launch a brand new album, “Stripped Down,” that was recorded in pretty minimalist settings.
“It’s very underproduced as a substitute of overproduced,” he says of the album. “You already know, we are likely to get within the studio, and simply because we are able to, (we’ll) have 20 individuals reducing and doing overdubs and this and that. That is simply flat out, a number of the songs are simply me and an acoustic guitar or me and a few band sounds or one thing, like slightly loop to sort of get the groove going. However I actually prefer it—quite a bit.”
Many a songwriter will say the true check of a tune is whether or not it holds up in a solo acoustic format, which implies “Stripped Down” needs to be as a lot of a showcase for Vassar’s songwriting as for his singing and piano enjoying—and a big departure from his different albums, which have usually featured fairly full preparations and a superb variety of uptempo, feel-good songs.
Together with newly written materials, “Stripped Down” will embody two songs Vassar wrote twenty years in the past that come from a stack of unreleased compositions he’s gathered through the years.
“It’s humorous, to certainly one of my buddies out in California, I mentioned, ‘Hearken to this tune’ and it’s one of many songs referred to as ‘I Gained’t Neglect You,’ and he or she was weeping, I imply, crying,” Vassar recollects. “She goes ‘That is the very best tune you’ve ever written.’ And he or she’s a author and a buddy of mine, and I mentioned, ‘You already know, I really like this tune. It simply by no means made sense to chop it on certainly one of these different data.’
“And there’s one other tune referred to as ‘Excellent World’ that I wrote,” he elaborated. “It’s actually kind of poignant proper now. It sort of talks about politics, the world and all of these items, but it surely’s enjoyable. It’s a humorous sort of a tongue-in-cheek tune. So I adore it. These two songs together with the opposite stuff that’s model new, I actually prefer it.”
“Stripped Down” will arrive at a degree the place Vassar’s musical life is kind of completely different than it was within the first decade and a half of his profession.
He got here to Nashville within the early 1990s, and located success towards the tip of the last decade as a songwriter. Artists who had hits with Vassar songs included Collin Raye (“Little Pink Rodeo”), Alan Jackson (“Proper on the Cash”), Tim McGraw (“For a Little Whereas”), Jo Dee Messina (“Bye Bye, Alright”) and Blackhawk (“Postmarked Birmingham”).
However Vassar all the time had his eye on being an artist in his personal proper, and in 1999 he was signed by Arista Nashville. He had appreciable success, starting along with his self-titled debut album, which kicked out 4 prime 10 hits, together with the chart-topping “Simply One other Day in Paradise.”
His follow-up albums, 2002’s “American Little one” and 2004’s “Shaken Not Stirred,” had been additionally profitable, including 5 extra hit singles, together with the No. 1 hit, “In A Actual Love,” to his catalog. For a time, Vassar seemed like he may have the ability to make the leap into the highest ranks of nation stars, however his profession leveled off with the 2008 album, “Prayer of a Widespread Man” and 2009’s “Travelling Circus.” They nonetheless produced hits, however didn’t take Vassar to a brand new stage. After that, Vassar stepped again from recording, with 2016’s “American Soul” being his solely different full-length studio album of authentic materials.
Vassar likes his profession the place it’s now as an impartial artist with a catalog of hits (10 No. 1 singles and 26 prime 40 hits as a songwriter and artist total) that allow him to stay a dependable live performance draw. He doesn’t miss the pressures that got here with making an attempt to get chart-topping singles or having to cater to numerous pursuits within the trade.
“You already know it’s humorous, I used to be listening to that tune ‘Rhinestone Cowboy’ the opposite day, the Glen Campbell tune, which I really like,” Vassar says, earlier than singing a well-known couplet from the tune.
“‘There’ll be a load of compromising/On the street to my horizon,’ I’m like holy crap, no more true phrases have ever been mentioned. And it’s true. However now we are able to sort of do issues at our personal (tempo).
“Now I can play as a result of I need to, not as a result of I’ve to,” he says. “I don’t should rise up and fear about if I’m going to make my home cost or no matter, if my children are going to go to high school. You may simply exit and play since you adore it, and I adore it greater than I ever have due to that.”
So Vassar continues to make touring a precedence, and his acoustic tour this winter is a sort of present he’s by no means taken out on a tour.
“I’ll do weekends like that or one thing like that each as soon as in awhile, however this is sort of a actual main (acoustic tour),” Vassar says. “We’re beginning on the East Coast and I believe we find yourself on the West Coast, actually in L.A., San Diego and Phoenix. So, we’ll work our means all the way in which throughout the nation.”
Vassar gained’t be performing alone on this tour, although.
“My guitar participant (Jeff Smith) comes with me. He’s sort of a everlasting fixture,” Vassar mentioned. “He’s nice. He’s my musical brother, . He excursions with me in all places…And in sure markets, Jack Tempchin’s going to play with me, in San Diego. I imply, he solely wrote ‘Peaceable Simple Feeling,’ and a number of the Eagles’ songs and ‘Gradual Dancing.’ That’s one of many biggest songs ever. Simply in several markets I’m going to have completely different individuals perhaps rise up with me and play, and a few native guys.”
He’ll even have one other particular visitor—his classic Roland drum machine, which he used to set beats and tempos when he wrote a few of his largest hits. The Roland, it seems, isn’t any stranger to stay performing, both.
“I used to play these bars the place it was simply me with this drum machine and we had been killing it,” Vassar says. “I referred to as it Roscoe. (I’d say) ‘Me and Roscoe are rocking the home tonight.’ It was a lot enjoyable. That’s how I kind of constructed my world, simply me and that drum machine. I’ll inform you what, I realized quite a bit about entertaining and writing and all of that stuff in these bars. I wouldn’t commerce it for something.”
Phil Vassar, Humphreys Backstage Dwell, 2241 Shelter Island Drive, Shelter Island, 6:30 p.m. Friday, February 14, tickets begin at $49, humphreysrestaurant.com.