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Phil Vassar - Prayer of a Common Man
Album Review By: Brianna Nightingale, CSO Staff Journalist
5/25/08

It has been over two years since I wrote my very first country music review on Phil Vassar’s Greatest Hits. Vassar’s new album contains tracks that would fit well on another one of those Greatest Hits albums.

His piano is as remarkable as ever on the new album, Prayer of a Common Man, which includes ten of twelve tracks that he wrote or co-wrote. He also co-produced the album with Mark Wright.

Starting strong with “This Is My Life,” Vassar’s lyrics are right on target for today’s world; if you haven’t heard it yet, you’ll find out why in the second verse. In the enjoyable and vocally strong “Around Here Somewhere,” a couple who needs to rekindle their love for each other searches “between the pillows on the couch, under the bed [and] up on some shelf.” One of my favorites on this album is “My Chevrolet,” a nostalgic tune with thoughtful, clever country lyrics and a great, catchy melody.

Vassar’s brilliantly written single, “Love Is a Beautiful Thing,” was written by two talented songwriters, Jeffrey Steele and Craig Wiseman. This one is a song for every member of the wedding party; the grandparents who walked down the same aisle fifty years ago, the father of the bride trying to hide the tears in his eyes and even for the mother who could not be there on this special day.

Continuing to prove that he is aware of his broad range of listeners, Vassar’s tender “Prayer of a Common Man” follows his well-known style, aiming to clutch the hearts of many, letting them know they’re not alone in hard times. This song is down-to-earth and powerful, reaching deep down into the souls of people who feel they have lost it all.

The fiddle, and of course the piano, are both strong in “I Would,” about a love that ended and cannot be patched. Vassar’s creative imagination allowed him to write this one alone.

I’d make you laugh
I’d learn to cry
Learn to dance
Just for one more chance
Something I could do to make it good
Baby I would

“Why Don’t Ya,” which Vassar did not co-write, strays away from his well-known style, but it fits him nonetheless. Los Lonely Boys partake in this one as well; their influence is unmistakable.

“It’s Only Love,” a strong-willed break up song comes immediately before “Let Me Love You Tonight,” which is about not wanting to let go quite yet.

Back to the up-tempo songs, “The World Is a Mess” and “Baby Rocks” bring out the personality we have all come to expect from Vassar. “The World Is a Mess” picks up even more at the end, and although the piano is fantastic throughout “Baby Rocks,” there is a glittery, notable solo about two and a half minutes into the song that will blow your mind.

One of the most tender songs on the album is the other song that Vassar wrote himself. “Crazy Life” illustrates that the day to day lives we lead are just as important as the big picture. Even though the chorus is strong, my favorite part of the song, lyrically, is near the beginning.

“I think about the good and bad
The happiness outweighs the sad
And the balance evens out the highs and lows”

Vassar never fails to impress me with his recordings or stage shows, partly because he usually ends up sitting or standing on the piano at one point or another during concerts. Although he has some big shoes to fill, Phil Vassar is certainly the country version of “The Piano Man,” and he’s darn good at it.

 

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