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Home This Year

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Album Review

From the opening bars of "Home This Year," which titles and kicks off Virginia Coalition's fifth album, it's clear the band has progressed into rich new musical pastures. With the track's insistent, yearning refrain of "Gotta get home this year," the group sets the stage for a set filled with reflective songs and introspective moods. Gone are the high-energy performances and exhilarating sounds that were the Coalition's signature and reached an apex on their preceding album, Live at the 9:30 Club, while their penchant for fusing genres is deliberately muted. Instead, the bandmembers throw the spotlight on their songwriting, notably tightening the structures, and giving prominence to ambience and emotion. Songs like the star-crossed "Not Scared," glittering with acoustic guitars and delicate keyboards, waft into singer/songwriter territory, while the more grandiose "Same Page" has all the makings of a power ballad classic. "Santa Fe" evokes the soft rock stylings of the '70s, and with Jarrett Nicolay's banjo gently twanging away, brings to mind the likes of Poco. On the upbeat "Stars Align," his cheery playing is counterpointed by keyboardist Paul Ottinger's best champagne styling, like an Appalachian dinner club. So, the Coalition haven't entirely deserted their flair for fusion. The quietly infectious "Lately," for instance, hints at orchestral grandeur, while folding in a tinge of '60s soul. The band's soul stylings are further illuminated on "Look My Way," juxtaposed against an adamant rhythm and billowing electric keyboards. The entire set is lit with a quiet optimism and a sparkling sound. With the uplifting "Sing Along" destined for single status, the even more anthemic "Same Page" and infectious "Home This Year" deserve to follow. The Coalition come home to their earliest roots, and one hopes they'll stay there forever.

Customer Reviews

New Direction, Great Album

I agree with all the other reviewers, this album is definitely a new direction. Less funky, more folk/country. That being said, it's a great album. I was originally a skeptic (I love old VACO stuff). I was listening to a new track from "Home This Year" every Tuesday on their MySpace page, and I was left unimpressed. Now that I'm listening to it at a higher quality... let's just say it'll be in my car's CD player for a while.


Home This Year is a musical journey from start to finish. Most impressive is Vaco's ability to intertwine soulful lyrics with excellent melodies. This album, and I stress the word album, is the culmination of more than fifteen years worth of music and friendship. The upbeat tunes most Vaco fans are accustomed to can be found in Santa Fe, Stars Align, Same Page, Lately and Look My Way. At the other end of the spectrum, listeners can find solace in songs such as Home This Year, Not Scared, Sing Along and I Got This One. All in all, Home This Year is the complete package.

Another GREAT release.

Another amazing CD from an amazing group of guys. A little different than some of their previous albums, but moving in a great direction. The song writing on the whole disc is amazing, but "Home This Year" and "Stars Align" really show the talent of the band as song writers. This is a definite must get for '08. These guys are doing big things.


Formed: 1990 in Alexandria, VA

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s

The four members of the rock band Virginia Coalition -- singer Andrew Poliakoff, multi-instrumentalists Paul Ottinger and Jarrett Nicolay, and drummer John Patrick -- met in junior high school in Alexandria, VA, in music class. In the spring of 1998, they started a local buzz by self-releasing their debut album, The Colors of the Sound. Townburg followed in 2000, helping Virginia Coalition (affectionately termed VACO by their fans) to expand their following to the East Coast and the Midwest, and...
Full Bio