Riding an ever-evolving wave of success as a singer-songwriter years after his well-traveled whirlwind era as sideman for Whitney Houston and Phoebe Snow, Dave Vargo had booked March 20, 2020 to head back to the studio to record the follow-up to his 2019 album Spaces in Between. COVID-19 postponed those plans, but couldn’t deter his creative vibe.
While in lockdown, to keep in touch with his fans and develop new connections, he launched “2 For Tuesday” – a weekly mini-show for his private Facebook group where he and a special guest would play two tunes a week “to honor everyone’s short attention span.” The repertoire was a mix of originals, he’d previously recorded and covers mostly spotlighting lesser-known songwriters. The New Jersey based artist has long since resumed playing live gigs at restaurants, breweries and wineries (“the alcohol tour,” he muses), and he recently gigged and held court at such Nashville hotspots as Belcourt Taps, Alley Taps, Cabana Taps and the Commodore Grill, he’s kept the popular social media performances going and recently hosted his 80th episode.
Vargo’s been back in the studio in recent months as well, and is currently working on overdubs for the tracks that will be on his as yet untitled third album, due to drop in late 2021/early 2022. While several impactful personal losses during the pandemic time have influenced many of the songs he will be presenting, his new single, the passionate ballad “Fault Lines,” was inspired by his experiences in Nashville on a trip he took there several years ago.
Navigating his emotions around his expectations going into professional situations versus the stark reality, he sings about the “Crooked miles and exit signs/Still so far to go/Close your eyes and dreams arrive/Nothing feels like home” and those “Dotted lines and learning curves/Hopes piled on the seat.” While the words of the chorus connect to his confusion about the way forward, they also have universal implications that we can bring our own life experiences to: “Hard to know which way to turn/And what gets left behind/Step by step you inch across the fault lines.”
“It started out about that trip and what I hoped might happen when I went to Nashville, tempered by the reality that slowly chips away at those hopes on the seat,” Vargo says. “I learned that no matter where you are in your career, it’s a super tough town with performers whose talent is beyond what I’m usually surrounded with in New Jersey. Everyone’s trying to make it, and I’m just one of the many. So it’s a humbling experience, but I choose to look at it like even if I don’t think I’m on par with some of the others, maybe I could learn from them or hook up for a co-write, which could help up my game as a writer and performer. That theme definitely matched the slower ballad vibe and dreamy guitar parts I included.”
Vargo also recently released the album’s infectious first lead single “Half Bad,” which showcases his edgier rock energy and more cautiously optimistic side with the key line: “Dreaming of everything you don’t have/Wishing and wanting more, when you have all that, you need/Maybe this life ain’t half bad…” In just a few weeks, the tracked had over 75,000 streams on Spotify.
The singer says, “It’s probably the most hopeful song I’ve written for the project. For whatever reason, most of my tunes tend to be on the sad, contemplative side, which are the kinds of songs I am personally drawn to. This one was so different, so bouncy and light in spirit, that when I finished it, my producer said, ‘This is a song for the people.’
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