Jonathan Vassar
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Jonathan Vassar

Band Pop Singer/Songwriter


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"Jonathan Vassar, The Hours and The Days"

A well-known staple of the Richmond, Virginia music scene, Jonathan Vassar has brought several friends from his local music community to play on his seven-song country folk record, The Hours and the Days. Lush vocal harmonies, delicate banjo picking, and pedal steel join the acoustic guitar, accordion and filmy tenor vocals by Vassar. The album flows through ghostly murder ballads ("About a Dog"), sparse folk lullabies ("Arm & Hammer") and upbeat gypsy rock ("Knuckle Shuffle") that weave colorful imagery and memorable lines with haunting narratives.

The limited pressing includes organic packaging and liner notes in the form of a vintage postcard from Richmond (depicting a railway trestle over a stormy James River, a symbol of city pride compelling many Richmonders), affixed to which is a stamp. The notes also allude to Triple Stamp Records, the album’s label. “This hammer is made of flesh and blood”, sings Vassar in “Flesh and Bone” as Josh Small picks the banjo with unique form that sits somewhere between clawhammer and Scruggs. Vassar’s accordion bridges the last verse to the final refrain, and by the end of the album Vassar looks like Tom Waits’ direct descendant. - / Sarah Moore

"A Compelling Debut"

On first impressions, you'd be forgiven for thinking that Jonathan Vassar was just another generic alt-country singer-songwriter. Yet whilst opener "Catch Me If You Can" adheres to an overly familiar format, it proves a fine example of its type and like many of the songs here it is potently emotive and characterised by a genuine lyricism. Although Vassar's voice is not unduly powerful and sometimes left too far down in the mix, it is certainly affecting. Equally, his facility with the accordion lends a unique colour to many of the songs.

Over the course of the album, Vassar extends his palette and the delicate beauty of songs such as "Holy Roller" and "Arm and Hammer" is accompanied by excursions into Gothic Americana with "Flesh & Bone" or "About a Dog". The latter is particularly impressive, the backing vocals and dynamic tension of the chorus generating real unease. "Turn Down the Sun" meanwhile stands as the most infectious track here and is instantly familiar. Whilst on the strength of a single EP it might be too early to judge Vassar's talent, he certainly promises much for the future. - Americana UK, Kai Roberts

"Jonathan Vassar, The Hours and The Days"

There's americana, and then there's americana. More specifically, there's vaguely rockified country music and then there's the use of folk and roots influences to create something entirely new. Jonathan Vassar belongs to the second camp.

Don't get me wrong; I like a lot of vaguely rockified country music. But I'm more impressed when someone can write good songs while inventing something unique. Vassar travels down many well-worn roads, but he always seems to add a little something to each piece.

Right now he seems content with folk orchestration--a little mandolin, plenty of accordion and some fiddle in addition to the usual acoustic combo--but sometimes it sounds like he's tempted to go all Tom Waits on us. Thing is, I think he'd do that well, too.

Songwriting is king on an album like this, and Vassar has a sure hand. Whether quiet or rollicking, he knows how to cut to the emotional center of a story. Most impressive. - Aiding & Abetting

"9 Bands to Watch in 2009"

Richmond folk artist Jonathan Vassar’s style comes from the deep roots of country music and the songs of the 60s. What we get from Vassar’s EP “The Hours and The Days” is an amazing collection of folk songs that range from the slow and heartfelt to the upbeat and powerful. Fresh off a show at The National, it’ll be no surprise seeing this trio going places. -, Andrew Cothern


1. 9 songs (self released), 2. 8 songs (self released), 3. The Hours and The Days (Triple Stamp Records) EP
4. The Fire Next Time (Triple Stamp Records) EP



Jonathan Vassar has been a prolific songwriter for over fifteen years. His performances are engaging and his songs, while delivering affecting narratives, touch upon mystique. His influences include outsider folk, the outlaw country movement, and Tin Pan Alley.