Phil Vassar had his breakthrough in 2002 with his second album, American Child, a mature set of contemporary country-pop that established that the former professional songwriter had the chops to be a performing star in his own right. For its 2004 follow-up, Shaken Not Stirred, Vassar loosens things up a little bit, borrowing a little from Kenny Chesney's laid-back party-ready style. While he never indulges in the Jimmy Buffett worship of the island-obsessed Chesney, he does share a similar fondness for '70s arena rock and singer/songwriters, and he's injected Shaken Not Stirred with a heavy dose of humor and good times that only rarely surfaced on American Child. Unfortunately, this can veer close to novelty territory, at least on "What Happens in Vegas" and "I'll Take That as a Yes (The Hot Tub Song)," which arrive way too early on this album and nearly ground its momentum to a halt. Significantly, these are the only two songs that Vassar didn't have a hand in writing on this album, and the rest of the record is much more assured, clever, and affecting than these two tunes. Vassar benefits from a looser vibe, since it not only results in livelier performances and funnier jokes, but the sentimental ballads resonate more in this context. Perhaps the record is a little heavy on mid-tempo cuts and the production may be a little slicker than it needs to be, but the polish is appealing, the performances strong, and the songs are, by and large, sturdy and memorable, making Shaken Not Stirred Vassar's best record to date.
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Performance CreditsPhil Vassar Primary Artist,Synthesizer,Piano,Vocals,Vocal Ad-Libs
Eric Darken Percussion
Robert Byrne Acoustic Guitar
Nick Brophy Acoustic Guitar,Electric Guitar
Shannon Forrest Drums
Larry Franklin Fiddle
Steve Nathan Keyboards
Russ Pahl Electric Guitar,Steel Guitar,Slide Guitar
Craig Wiseman Vocal Ad-Libs
Glenn Worf Bass,Bass Guitar
Russell Terrell Background Vocals
Tim Akers Organ,Piano,Keyboards
Matt Thomas Fiddle,Mandolin
Bryan Sutton Acoustic Guitar,Mandolin
Wes Hightower Background Vocals
Jeff Smith Acoustic Guitar,Electric Guitar,Background Vocals
Angelo Collura Drums
Clayton Ryder Organ,Piano,Keyboards
Jim "Moose" Brown Piano,Keyboards,Hammond Organ,Clavinet,Wurlitzer,Hammond B3
Darren Theriault Bass
Julie Wood Vassar Background Vocals
Jeff King Electric Guitar
Jeff Smith Acoustic Guitar,Electric Guitar,Background Vocals
Clayton Ryder Keyboards
Technical CreditsRobert Byrne Composer
Charlie Black Composer
Nick Brophy Producer,Engineer,Audio Production
Neal Cappellino Engineer
Bobby Fischer Composer
Mark Greenwood Engineer
Vince Melamed Composer
Steve Short Engineer
Craig Wiseman Composer
Jeff Wood Composer
Jason Lehning Engineer
Phil Vassar Composer,Producer
Richard Barrow Engineer
Jeff Smith Composer
Frank Rogers Producer
Kerry Kurt Phillips Composer
Christophe Dubois Composer
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is a spectactular album! I love every song. The more you listen, the more you appreciate this CD. Can't pick a favorite anymore, my favorites keep changing! Phil is an exceptional musician and singer and the best entertainer you will ever see in concert! Make a point of getting to a concert when he's in your area!
Vassar's among a select set of Nashville hit songwriters who has successfully transitioned to chart-climbing performer. His previous album provided the commercial breakout, and this latest parlays that success with ever more radiant performances. Impressively, Vassar's ride to stardom (and the incessant touring it involves) hasn't cooled his pen, as he co-wrote all but two of the tracks here. Even more impressive is that Vassar recorded with his road band, rather than the typical line-up of studio-hounds, lending this disc a more collegial feeling than the usual Nashville production. ¶ Though marketed as a Nashville artist, Vassar's soulful vocals lend many of these songs - like "Erase" and "Nobody Knows Me Like You" - a 70's-era style reminiscent of Chicago. Other tunes, like "What Happens in Vegas," venture to the California soft-country-rock sound of The Eagles, and "Here to Forget" follows provides lyrical shades of Jimmy Buffett's bar tales, though without the tropical musical influences. ¶ There are country touches here and there in a passing line of steel, but this is really piano-heavy pop-rock ala Billy Joel. Good pop-rock, but pop-rock nonetheless. Additional highlights include the stark vocal-piano-and-steel "Dancin' With Dreams" and the bluesy Doobie Brothers-esque "Black and Whites." Sure to please fans and attract a few more. ¶ 3-3/4 stars, if allowed fractional ratings.
I was lucky enough to attend a CD promo party here in Lowell, MA for Phil Vassar's new cd on 9/27 and received the CD that night. He performed for well over an hour doing 5 songs from the new album. He was phenomenal. I have listened to it over and over. It's fantastic. If you liked his first album you'll love this one. If you have an opportunity to see him live, do so, he puts on one of the best shows I've ever seen and I've seen all the big guns. He has more energy than my 9 year old! He's also an absolutely incredible piano player. He reminds me of Billy Joel a lot of the time, but much nicer to look at!!!!!!
I heard Vassar do a studio concert on the radio a while ago, with just him playing the piano. It was some of the most beautiful music I'd ever heard, and convinced me that I finally might have discovered a country artist I liked. When I got the album I was disappointed to learn that this amazing pianist/singer/songwriter had a very conventional country band with steel guitars, electric fiddles and all the "standard" accoutraments to the genre which (don't hate me) really do nothing for me musically. Vassar is a very talented man ... I'm sure that for your average country music fan, this is great music ... just a little sad that he might have managed to make a crossover into some other music genres to attract some other listeners and didn't.
I bought Phil's other two C.D.s and this one is substandered. The only two songs I could even listen to were Good ole days and Real love(which country radio drove into the ground, for me). The other songs are either slow BORING music or typical country (in the vein of Gary Allen) Advice don't wast your time or money on this weak effort.