Posts Tagged ‘Jim Croce’

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”.

danhazlettDan Hazlett is a singer-songwriter, guitar player from the state of Michigan. With his style of writing, Hazlett’s easy listening music would fit alongside people like Christopher Cross, Jim Croce and James Taylor. Hazlett is a seasoned musician who has several releases in his discography. The newest one, The Corner of My Eye, was released in 2012.
The Corner of My Eye from Dan Hazlett begins with the track “Alchemy of Fish”. The folk-rock song has a simple feel to the music and sort of brings back the feeling of the writing of John Denver. The lyrics to the song about living off the earth also have the same John Denver-like quality.

The next track on the album is “Empty Room”. With this track, you can tell that Dan Hazlett is the type of writer that can tell a good tale in the lyrics of his songs. “Empty Room” is a song about two people on different paths who end up needing each other. The lyrics of the song are written using free verse, making the listener pay attention more to the story than to the music of the track.

On the song “Alien,” the listener gets to experience the true talent of Dan Hazlett as a guitarist. The first third of the song features the guitar as Hazlett plays some very beautiful and moving instrumental jazz. When Hazlett’s voice does appear on the track, the song takes on a different kind of feeling than the first part of the track. The lyrics of the song have a bit of pain in them as Hazlett sings a very touching song about a boy who is dealing with cancer and the kids he calls friends who decide to stand by the boy as he goes through Chemotherapy. The song is sung from the perspective of the kids on the baseball team who are standing by the boy with cancer. The moving song once again shows Hazlett to be a very good storyteller. The music, lyrics and guitar playing from Hazlett on this track make “Alien” one of the strongest tracks on the release.
The song “Postcard from Paris” is yet another example of Hazlett’s ability to create a story in song. The track features music that is part folk and part jazz. The jazz part of the melody goes well with the visuals of the subject in the song reading the postcard he received from someone he knows who went to France.

With the song “The Other Side of Dawn,” Dan Hazlett creates one of the fullest sounding tracks on the release The Corner of My Eye. The addition of background vocals by a choir of voices and the inclusion of the trumpet and piano on the track really add body to the track. The song contains a lot of emotion in the lyrics to the song as the lyrics tell of two people who are going their separate ways.

The Corner of My Eye from Dan Hazlett comes to an end with the track “Where the Blue Meets the Blue”. The song features a folk-like approach to the music and features a fiddle that adds to the beauty of the music. Like the songs that came before it, the lyrics to “Where the Blue Meets the Blue” have a very strong affect on mind as you can almost see the pictures that Hazlett describes in the song.

The album The Corner of My Eye from Dan Hazlett feels very much like a collection of short stories as Hazlett writes very straightforward lyrics that tell it like it is. The music on the album is performed with style and lends itself well to the lyrics written by Hazlett. You only come across an artist like Hazlett once in a while and his album The Corner of My Eye is a joy to listen to.

Click HERE for the video to the song “Alien” from Dan Hazlett.

Sometimes your calling really isn’t your calling. It may take some time to realize that you should be doing something else. That’s what Commodities Trader-turned-musician Bob Pressner discovered and is now on his way to making a name for himself in the music industry.

The musical path that Bob Pressner has taken led him to create music that incorporates a lot of styles and genres into his style. It is this style of Americana that Pressner has included on his new release called King of Nothing.

Bob Pressner begins his new release King of Nothing with the song “iGirl”. A song about trying to find real love in a world of information where you have no contact with anyone real (“We found the future but forgot each other”), the singer sings about a woman who would be great to know if he could actually meet her. The song has a very catchy rock sound that will definitely have you singing along.

The pace slows down on the title track of Bob Pressner’s new release. “King of Nothing” is a pop song that features a beautiful instrumental background complete with strings. The pop/folk feel to the music works well when paired up with lyrics about a man who feels that he has nothing to show for himself and cannot even stake claim to anything of importance. The sad lyrics and the beautiful music combine to make a very moving song.

One of the best tracks on the album is probably the most infectious, as well. “Next Summer Never Came” is one of those well-written pop songs that have an unbelievably catchy hook as well as lyrics that will, once again, tear at your heart with their powerful feeling of sadness. The mostly acoustic song is very strong in its music. This song about unfulfilled love is strangely beautiful, give the meaning of the lyrics. It is also one track that will have you reaching for “repeat”.

And then, for the first time on the King of Nothing release, Bob Pressner releases his rock side. With the song “Renaissance Man,” Pressner creates a song that brings to mind the music of bands like The White Stripes or The Black Stripes. The guitar and drums of the song create the main part of the music to the track. If you are a fan of bands like The White Stripes, The Black Keys or even Mr. Gnome, this song would really feed your hunger for that type of rock music.

The pace slows down once again with the next track called “The Blue Has Left your Eyes”. In a song that sounds more like Alt-Country than Rock music, the words of this song sound as if Pressner is channeling songwriters like James Taylor or even Jim Croce. The meaning behind the lyrics to this song has greater depth than the vast majority of the songs being written by today’s artists or songwriters.

“Thinking Man” seems to find Pressner taking on the role of singer-songwriter. With words that seem to be more important to the song than creating a hard-rockin’ track, Bob Pressner seems to, once again, channel the likes of James Taylor. The relaxed feel of the track even has Taylor’s style to it.

The twang of the guitar on “Water Water” along with Bob Pressner’s smoky vocals brings to mind the music from Bob Dylan. The roots rock base to the music mixed with a more modern and soulful approach to the song make for a song that could find an audience almost anywhere.

The King of Nothing release from Bob Pressner features a lot of twists and turns throughout the length of the album: The Alternate Rock style of the song “Renaissance Man” mixed with the Alt-Country sound of “The Blue Has Left Your Eyes” and the Pop feel of the song “Next Summer Never Came” along with the “pop culture” references found in the song “iGirl” all help to shape the new album. Each song on the King of Nothing release gives the listener a different take on the talent of Bob Pressner; and each song on the new release from Bob Pressner gives the listener plenty of variety in the music.

Click the song title for the video to “King of Nothing“.