CD Review: Jeff Varga “Looking Out My Window”

Posted: February 24, 2015 in Music
Tags: , , ,

One of the most prominent names that appear all over the Cleveland area when it comes to music is Jeff Varga. Jeff Varga is a singer-songwriter who has survived in the Cleveland music scene by becoming a regular at some of the area’s finest establishments. Whether it’s at a location such as Stamper’s or Houlihan’s or the now-closed Key West Café, you can always guarantee seeing Varga’s name somewhere at least once a week.

While Jeff Varga does have a “day job,” it’s the music side of his personality that makes his name very prominent. At each of these gigs, Varga presents his take on many well-known songs. Plus, he throws in his own musical compositions during those performances, as well. And with an ever-increasing library of original music, Varga has plenty of songs to choose from to keep the night interesting. In fact, Varga is currently promoting his latest album of original music that was released in 2014. That album is entitled Looking Out My Window.

For those unfamiliar with Varga’s musical style, the songs he creates are folk-rock based songs that are heavy on the folk side of things. In fact, you could easily compare what Varga does to the style of the late, great Jim Croce as the two singer-songwriters have very similar sounds and styles. Both writers have a very simple quality to their music. With the very simple feel to Varga’s music, the beauty of the music and the clarity in his voice are able to shine through in all of his songs. That simple feeling in his songs is very apparent on the songs that appear on Varga’s newest album called Looking Out My Window.

The 2014 release from Jeff Varga begins with the title track of the album. “Looking Out My Window” is classic Jeff Varga: The song features Varga on vocals and acoustic guitar as he sings about spending time just relaxing with that special someone. The romantic feel to the lyrics fit well with the folk music approach to the song. While Varga’s guitars are the main focus on the song musically, the soft addition of Mark Arlia’s bass helps to add just a little more depth to the song. The track turns out to be one of the album’s strongest moments.

With this release, Jeff Varga seems to draw from his personal life a little more than on other previous releases. Songs like “6 Pack and a 6 String” and “Cowboy in the City” both deal with Varga’s way of life as he enjoys living away from the high-paced world of the big city. Listening to Varga sing about the slower pace he enjoys, you get to know a little bit about the real Jeff Varga.

Unlike Jeff Varga’s last two releases of 2011’s Guitars and Horses and 2012’s Back Porch Songs where he created the releases all on his own, 2014’s Looking Out My Window finds Varga once again inviting musicians to join him in order to add a little more life to the songs. Two songs that benefit from the addition of another musical “voice” are the tracks “It’s Always Good” and “Say Grace”. Along with Varga’s guitar and voice, the tracks also feature the playing of violinist Samantha McNamara. On both songs, the violin helps give the music a definite boost and really helps to bring out the folk feeling in the songs.

While most of Looking Out My Window contains new compositions, Jeff Varga takes a page from his 2011 release of Guitars and Horses where he revisited some of his earlier songs. On Looking Out My Window, Varga revisits the track “I Can’t Believe” that had originally appeared on the 1996 release of Tangent. For the 2014 version of that classic track, Varga is joined by guitarist Steve Smith. Together, the two musicians take the track and add to the feeling of the original. The addition of Smith to the song makes the song feel fresh while still allowing the track to retain a lot of its original personality.

The newest release from Jeff Varga finds the singer-songwriter creating an album that takes his sound back to earlier releases in his catalog. The musical approach that had appeared on albums such as Tangent and The Human Trail once again appears on 2014’s Looking Out My Window. While the album has a very familiar feel to it, sometimes familiarity can be a good thing. And it’s that familiarity that makes Looking Out My Window a welcome addition to any music collection.

Click HERE for the video to the track “Looking Out My Window”.

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