Phil Vassar – “Everywhere I Go”

Sam Gazdziak | August 21st, 2009

phil-vassar-everywhere-i-goSo Phil Vassar’s whole cross-dressing country song didn’t exactly set the charts ablaze or boost his career into the A-list level of country singers…go figure. With this new single, “Everywhere I Go,” the Vassar team has decided to go the opposite route by releasing a song so familiar that you’ve already heard something just like it a few times if you’ve listened to even a little bit of country music in your life.

Thematically, we’re not breaking any new ground with this song. Country singers have been hung up on memories of past relationships for decades. This song does put a spin on the story by leaving the exact end of the relationship open to debate. Take these lyrics, for example:

Just like you said you’d be
Anytime I needed you here to comfort me
Though it’s only a memory
I swear you’re here, right there, everywhere I go.

Nowhere in the song does it specifically mention that the woman walked away, so it’s entirely possible the songwriter(s) ratcheted up the pathos by killing her off, with the singer being comforted by memories of her instead of being tormented by them. There’s something to be said for ambiguity, and it’s refreshing to not have some ham-fisted lyrics walking you through the entire plotline of the song. Whatever the woman’s ultimate fate, Vassar sells the song with every bit of emotion he can muster. While he gets a little shouty in the chorus, his voice has the right amount of grit and weariness needed to pull off the performance.

Unfortunately for Vassar, the song ultimately falls flat in its arrangement, which takes everything interesting about the song and drowns it in the standard-issue pop-country sad-song arrangement. Everything about it, from the dramatic violin intro to the ending guitar solo from the guy who probably moonlights in an ’80s hair metal tribute band, sounds so familiar and commonplace that it’s pretty much impossible to stand out in a crowded radio playlist. A good song will grab you by the shirt and make you listen to it. This one starts playing, and your brain automatically registers it as a Rascal Flatts album cut and shuts down for the next three and a half minutes. Logically, I can understand why you’d ape a band like Rascal Flatts, but I can’t help but wonder what the song would have sounded like if the emphasis had been on Vassar’s vocals and his piano playing.

I wouldn’t mind if this song becomes a hit, though. If it does, that makes it more likely that Vassar would record an unplugged version of the song for iTunes or some radio station. That version of the song, and not this one, is the one you’d want to get.

Thumbs Down

  1. Clemson Brad
    August 21, 2009 at 9:15 am

    I think the song is simply okay…but I can see it growing on me. More then anything, I am just glad Phil is releasing something that sounds like a Phil Vassar song.

    It looks like the “Bobbi with an I” experiment was a failure and it should have been…how could he release something like that?

  2. Waynoe
    August 21, 2009 at 10:53 am

    Music critics are like sports’ writers. Most have never played the game and have never worn a jock-strap but seem to be the all-knowing self-anointed judge of what they have little experience at.

    By the way I tend to agree with the review and yes I know how to play a G chord and 3-4 timing.

  3. Pierce
    August 21, 2009 at 11:18 am

    Hey, I’m a college athlete and a music critic. Does that count?

  4. Chris N.
    August 21, 2009 at 11:19 am

    I know well over five chords, so I’m overqualified.

  5. Chris N.
    August 21, 2009 at 11:20 am

    Plus I wear a jockstrap when I’m writing.

  6. Sam G.
    August 21, 2009 at 11:53 am

    I used to rock out on the flutophone back in the day. The editor of the Room 3 Revue said that my version of “Mary Had A Little Lamb” was a revelation.

  7. Waynoe
    August 21, 2009 at 12:27 pm

    Sorry guys. I’ve a post-graduate degree and have been a musician for 25 years. I don’t play sports or music professionally which is why I do not fancy myself as a critical writer of said areas.

    Just call me a critic’s critic. Regardless, this is a good website.

  8. stormy
    August 21, 2009 at 12:34 pm

    I didn’t know I had to wear a jock strap to be a writer. I swear, this thing is such a boys club.

  9. Jon
    August 21, 2009 at 12:40 pm

    “Plus I wear a jockstrap when I’m writing.”

    Talk about your TMI…

    There’s an interesting line that might be drawn here between the critical observation that “song x is (or isn’t)…” and the critical recommendation that “song x should (or shouldn’t)…” No songwriting experience or talent is needed for the former, but the question of experience or talent does, in my opinion, begin to surface with the latter. Not saying that that’s the case with this particular review, just saying.

  10. Chris N.
    August 21, 2009 at 12:45 pm

    I do try very hard never to say, “What [Artist X] should do is …”

    That said, I do object to the implication that I have no insight into the quality of a recording or performance just because my primary source of income is writing about music rather than making it. That’s like saying Pauline Kael was a lousy film critic because she didn’t make movies.

  11. Deb
    August 21, 2009 at 2:55 pm

    It’s a great song – Phil Vassar is great at getting to a common experience. He doesn’t overpersonalize – even thought it’s probably based on recent events in his life. I think most will connect with the song in some way or another. It seems to me he puts his heart and soul right out there and then lets you take it for what it is – isn’t that what an artist does?

  12. Jon
    August 21, 2009 at 3:29 pm

    I agree, Chris – that’s the other side of the line.

  13. Rick
    August 21, 2009 at 6:07 pm

    Everywhere I go that I hear this song, I leave or change the station….

  14. Steve Harvey
    August 21, 2009 at 8:06 pm

    That’s like saying Pauline Kael was a lousy film critic because she didn’t make movies.
    Good point. That’s certainly not the reason that Pauline Kael was a lousy film critic.

  15. Jay
    August 21, 2009 at 9:53 pm

    I know in the past my opinions have just led to argument here, but I want to point clear something up. There’s not once that I’ve read a Phil Vassar review on The 9513 and had it end on a positive note. Now I’m neutral concerning Vassar, he’s hit and miss for me, but after quite a few negative reviews I really want to know why The 9513 just doesn’t leave him alone and ignore him all together.

    I know you guys have better things to review or reveal, I’ve seen it especially this first half of the year, so why waste time on something like this when you really DO have better things you could be doing?

  16. Stormy
    August 21, 2009 at 10:56 pm

    Try reading Miranda Lambert reviews.

  17. Chris N.
    August 21, 2009 at 11:47 pm

    “Good point. That’s certainly not the reason that Pauline Kael was a lousy film critic.”

    So there aren’t many things that I would commit to physical violence for, but Pauline Kael’s honor is one of them.

  18. J.R. Journey
    August 22, 2009 at 10:38 am

    I’ve always had a soft-spot for Phil Vassar’s brand of pop-country, always thought he was a brilliant lyric-writer. His first album was full of great songs and he has certainly been prolific as a writer of hits for other artists – he built the career of Jo Dee Messina with his songs.

    And I pretty much agree with this review – it sounds like 90% of the rest of the radio hits of today. Nothing great or special about it to set it apart. I would like to see Phil have a hit with it simply because I like the man as a singer and songwriter, and it would be nice to hear him on the radio again.

  19. Tim
    August 28, 2009 at 12:24 am

    I genuinely enjoy this song. It is simply written & nicely sung. I agree Phil oversings it at points & it would be nice to see this without the shouting. Here’s hoping Phil can get back to the top of the charts, but doubting this song will do it.

  20. Lori
    September 5, 2009 at 1:08 pm

    I am exceptionally good at buying country music cds as well as concert tickets…I love the song ;) That being said, I don’t think it necessary to say that I disagree with your review…but what the heck…I disagree with your review. But God Bless America for your right to post it. :):) Have a great weekend all.

  21. Ryan R
    September 29, 2009 at 11:59 am

    I’m a huge Phil fan, but when i first heard this song, I thought it was probably a little generic for his standards. However, after getting bashed for his attempts to try something different, can you blame him for going generic? Anyway, most of the songs that reach the top of the charts ARE generic, and I don’t see any reason this one won’t get there, especially because its co-written with Jeffrey Steele, and all his songs are hits.

    But anyway, my point here is that the more i listen to this song, the less generic i think it really is. I hear people call this a sad song, and I don’t think it really is. To me, this is a song about when you get past the heartbreak, the bitterness, and the sadness, and when you look back, all you see is the good stuff. Everywhere you go in life, the littlest, most random things remind you of her, but instead of making you sad, it makes you smile. I really can’t think of any other songs out there that are like that. I’m sure there are, but they’re not coming to me right away.

  22. Michelle
    December 10, 2009 at 1:33 pm

    Has anyone also seen the video for “Everywhere I Go”? I’m glad Traveling Circus will be released next week on the 15th!

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