When Phil Vassar made his debut in 1999, he was already a well-established songwriter for people such as Tim McGraw, Jo Dee Messina and Collin Raye. His debut album on Arista was a smash, producing four Top 10 hits and selling platinum. Somewhere along the way, though, Phil seemed to lose steam, with each successive album managing only one top 10 hit apiece. What happened? Maybe it was his songwriting: while the first album showed a strong, writerly sense, later singles tended to get progressively blander (with the occasional exception, such as the love-it-or-hate-it “Bobbi with an I”).
Phil wrote “Everywhere I Go” with Jeffrey Steele, whose “Love Is a Beautiful Thing” he took up to #2 last year. Given how much that song resembled Phil’s early material, his pairing with Jeffrey makes sense. Sonically, it recalls Phil Vassar circa 1999 all over again: a swelling melody, piano-heavy production, and what has to be one of Phil’s best vocal performances ever. The wide-open chorus just swells with his bracing vocal, relying on pure energy instead of oversung bombast.
The lyrics aren’t terribly original; indeed, this song has a very common theme of the narrator still seeing his lover everywhere he goes. Even so, the lyrics are fairly fresh, relying on unusual turns of phrase such as “I was living in that happy-to-be-right-where-I-am space / And God knows that’s a hard-to-get-to kind of place.” The structure is fairly interesting as well: after the second chorus, one would expect a bridge, then a solo, then the chorus again. Instead, the song moves to a ten-line tag followed by a guitar solo that ends the song.
After the relative lack of inspiration evident in such songs as “I Would,” it’s refreshing to see Phil Vassar reverting to his original form. Maybe the Midas touch of Jeffrey Steele is all he needs to get back on his feet again, after stumbling so many times over the past five years.