Some music transports in the way it takes you away from whatever computer or headphones you happen to be listening from and drops you in another place. Jonathan Vassar’s seven track LP The Hours and the Days does this, from the computer screen to the saloon.
With lines like “I was born to get shot/ so I guess I won’t drown/I’ll take a chance with the water and sink right down/ Catch me if you can,” Jonathan Vassar paints a scene of an outlaw running from the man and leaves no doubt: we are squarely in the genre of outlaw country, stylistically and lyrically.
“About a Dog” introduces an accordion and the sounds of a church choir and electric guitar. These elements, along with the obscure lyrics, “Gotta see a man about a dog,” remind me in a way of Tom Waits’ “Little Drop of Poison.” They both paint a scene without ever describing it. Vassar does this throughout the album, with songs like “Knuckle Shuffle.” The lyrics allude to nursery rhymes (“I got my handle but where’s my spout”) and pair with more accordion and a western sensibility.
From ages 6-8 I listened to one CD on repeat. I can’t recall the name, but I know it included Peter, Paul, and Mary’s “Puff the Magic Dragon” and “Baby Beluga.” Vassar’s “Turn Down the Sun” was ripped off of this CD. If it weren’t for the first line, I could close my eyes and taste the paste. “I took him by the leg and I threw him down the stairs,” it begins; that’s a snap back to reality. “Holy Roller” is wholly boring musically, but intriguing lyrically: “What you do in the dark/ will be brought to the light.”
“Arm and Hammer”, is not an oddly placed request for baking soda, but in fact rounds things off nicely, leaving us with a pretty (weird) package. It’s outlaw country with an accordion twist.