12 Songs, 47 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

2009’s Traveling Circus acknowledges some dark clouds hanging above the American horizon. Vassar has long been one of country music’s most adept storytellers, and his skills at lyric portraiture don’t fail him here. Tunes like “Lemonade,” “John Wayne” and “Tequila Town” depict the hard times of everyday folks with an empathetic touch. “A Year from Now” and “Everywhere I Go” probe the depths of lingering heartache, while “She’s On Her Way” sensitively explores the bonds between father and daughter. Brightening the album’s mood is the bouncy, ‘70s-sounding “Save Tonight for Me” and “Bobbi With an I,” a booty-shaking celebration of a burly cross-dresser’s exploits. Vassar veers away from character studies for an excursion through his own past in “Where Have All the Pianos Gone,” an elegant number paying homage to keyboard icons like Billy Joel and Elton John. As before, Vassar maintains a high standard of songwriting craft on Traveling Circus — but more than that, he edges away from his comfort zone to portray the shadows threatening the American Dream.

EDITORS’ NOTES

2009’s Traveling Circus acknowledges some dark clouds hanging above the American horizon. Vassar has long been one of country music’s most adept storytellers, and his skills at lyric portraiture don’t fail him here. Tunes like “Lemonade,” “John Wayne” and “Tequila Town” depict the hard times of everyday folks with an empathetic touch. “A Year from Now” and “Everywhere I Go” probe the depths of lingering heartache, while “She’s On Her Way” sensitively explores the bonds between father and daughter. Brightening the album’s mood is the bouncy, ‘70s-sounding “Save Tonight for Me” and “Bobbi With an I,” a booty-shaking celebration of a burly cross-dresser’s exploits. Vassar veers away from character studies for an excursion through his own past in “Where Have All the Pianos Gone,” an elegant number paying homage to keyboard icons like Billy Joel and Elton John. As before, Vassar maintains a high standard of songwriting craft on Traveling Circus — but more than that, he edges away from his comfort zone to portray the shadows threatening the American Dream.

TITLE TIME
12

About Phil Vassar

Contemporary country singer Phil Vassar made his name as a chart-topping songwriter before landing a record deal and becoming a hitmaking artist in his own right. Vassar was born in Lynchburg, VA, and won a track scholarship to James Madison University, where he first began to take music seriously. He moved to Nashville, learned to play piano, and sang his original material in clubs. One club patron and fan brought Vassar's demo tape to his father, crooner Engelbert Humperdinck, and Humperdinck wound up recording "Once in a While," a song Vassar had co-written with a bartender friend, in 1996. Vassar's songwriting career blossomed from there, as he landed a publishing contract with EMI and penned hits for Collin Raye ("Little Red Rodeo"), Alan Jackson ("Right on the Money"), Tim McGraw ("For a Little While"), Jo Dee Messina ("Bye Bye," "I'm Alright"), and BlackHawk ("Postmarked Birmingham"). He signed a record deal of his own with Arista in 1998 and was named ASCAP's Country Songwriter of the Year in 1999. His self-titled debut album was released in 2000, and the lead single, "Carlene," shot into the country Top Five; its follow-up, "Just Another Day in Paradise," went all the way to number one. "Six-Pack Summer" also reached the Top Ten, and yet another single from the album, "That's When I Love You," became Vassar's third Top Five hit in early 2002. Phil Vassar was certified gold for sales of half a million copies, and its follow-up, American Child, was released later in 2002. The title track gave Vassar yet another Top Five single. Prayer of a Common Man appeared in 2008 from Universal South. ~ Steve Huey

HOMETOWN
Lynchburg, VA
GENRE
Country
BORN
May 28, 1964

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