Round Two Goes to Country's Piano Man

American Child (Arista)
Phil Vassar

By Rob Greenwell

Phil Vassar has enjoyed a lot of success since his debut album arrived, including his first number one as an artist "Just Another Day in Paradise." If you didn't know anything about Phil, you most certainly have heard his songs on the radio. An accomplished songwriter before he scored his record deal, he has penned number one hits for Tim McGraw ("For A Little While, "My Next Thirty Years), JoDee Messina ("Bye Bye," "I'm Alright") and Alan Jackson ("Right on the Money") among others.

Once he became an artist, he had hits with "Carlene," "Just Another Day in Paradise" and "Six Pack Summer." Now his sophomore album arrives, amid much anticipation. Most people know that the second album is a crucial step in long-term success in the music business.

American Child is the title and first single from the album. He co-produced this one with Nashville powerhouse producer Byron Gallimore, a good sign that indicated he knew the importance of an artist's second project. Solid album with terrific songs, the standout is, "Someone You Love," a song he wrote with Rob Thomas of the pop group Matchbox Twenty. Hold on, you conservative traditionalists, this is actually a decent song, even though I will admit that it doesn't have that traditional feel. In fact, the only song on that album that has that feel is the title track.

This is a good country music album with just a little bit of Billy Joel mixed in, from the slow ballads of "I'm Already Gone" to "Stand Still" to the ever popular waltz smash hit, "American Child." To the up-tempo songs like "Forgettin' So Long" to "Ultimate Love" to the aforementioned "Someone You Love."

This album was written with considerable care, featuring songs that have meaning and that's a credit to Vassar, as he co-wrote all eleven songs on this album, a feat by Nashville standards, where the legions of Music Row writers crank out songs for pretty-voiced (with pretty faces) boy/girl artists. This guy's an actual writer.

Terrific album, great songs: country's piano man has passed his sophomore test. Go buy this album, and you'll see for yourself.