By Aaron Wagner
Here at Raised On It, we are huge Phil Vassar fans. He’s written some of the biggest country songs, has plenty of top hits himself, and overall is just a great musician to see live. That coupled with the fact that he’s been really accessible by continuing to tour and put out new music makes the connection to his fanbase even stronger.
Vassar recently released a new 8-track album titled Stripped Down. While one would think it’s an acoustic record from the title, it’s not. It’s just more of what we have come to love from him. His music is as timeless as it was in the early 2000s and that’s another reason why we love Phil and why this project is so special.
It’s the same Phil Vassar we’ve come to know and love. This album is damn good.
The album starts with “Postmarked Birmingham” which is actually a song he wrote for Blackhawk that only peaked at #37 in 1997. Hearing it now, it truly blows my mind that a song so well written didn’t gain more traction.
“Take Me Back Again” and “High School” paint a picture of yesteryears and the glory days of our youth. “High School” in particular has a really neat production sound to it and hopefully he adds it to his set.
Vassar is joined by his daughter, Haley Vassar, who is an up and coming artist more so on the pop side, on “This Is Where the End Starts.” She provides the harmonies and background vocals and I can imagine this was a special song for the two of them to record together.
If you’ve been to a live show of his, you know the saxophone gets ample playing time and we finally hear some on “Perfect World” before he transitions to a song that will punch you right in the feels with “I Won’t Forget You.” Singing about how there’s always going to be a piece of his heart with a former love is one of the more emotional songs on the album.
“Lemonade” is a song that was on his previous Traveling Circus album but is 100% a Phil Vassar and I’m glad he included it on this so it would get some more listens. Vassar is the king of melodies that just make you feel good and make you feel at ease. “Lemonade” is just that as he encourages us to deal with life as best as we can and try to turn lemons into lemonade.
Phil is the best. This album is an extension of the great music he’s made that has turned him into the artist he is today. Nearly a week later and I’m still listening to this project from start to finish on repeat.