Dave Vargo, former sideman for Whitney Houston and Phoebe Snow, recently released two tracks – “Battle Burns” and “This Time Around” – from his forthcoming full-length album, the worthy successor to his first album, Burning Through.
The way Vargo came to be a singer-songwriter is a ballad all by itself. He began guitar lessons when he was eight-years-old. Later he attended the Berklee College of Music majoring in music/performance with an emphasis on jazz. After graduation, he found immediate success, working with Phoebe Snow, touring with Whitney Houston, and playing with Vonda Shepherd.
Burn out hit him, and he dumped music for financial planning, starting his own firm. Vargo explains, “I would resurface occasionally to play with some local bands, but there was one point where I didn’t even touch a guitar for almost eight years.”
Then things changed. Vargo came home and found his basement flooded. He lost all of his guitars to water damage. Along with that, he started showing early signs of arthritis, which was when he realized time waits for no one. Taking the insurance money, he bought a new guitar and got back to music.
“Since becoming a singer/songwriter and focusing on Americana music,” Vargo says, “I feel like I’ve developed a deep musical curiosity about great songwriters, past and present, the same way I explored jazz when I was younger. Because I have the resources now that I didn’t have then, I have also been able to accumulate a wonderful collection of guitars that also help to keep me inspired.”
“This Time Around” rides a syncopated groove propelling shimmering guitars. The melody emanates flavors of alt-rock melded with infectiously upbeat Americana. If I had to liken Vargo’s music to another artist, I’d say a combination of Gordon Lightfoot and John Mellencamp: smooth, easy-to-listen-to music with Midwestern roots.
“Battle Burns” merges Americana and So-Cal country rock colors into a glimmering tune. Gleaming guitars give the tune a bright, warm feel, as Vargo’s delightful tenor rides overhead, full of tantalizing timbres.
With these two tracks, Dave Vargo whets listeners’ appetites for more tasty Americana. I can’t wait for the album to come out.