At twenty-five years of age, Nick Varvaro is a rising singer/songwriter from Nebraska City, Nebraska. He has been playing guitar and writing songs since he was a child, but Sunday Songs, released in December of 2016, is his debut project.
Each track on the album features two guitar tracks playing complementary harmonic parts, and Varvaro’s voice is layered with melody and harmony. With the addition of piano, each song is simple in terms of instrumentation, yet Varvaro succeeds in infusing the songs with original creativity and a catchy, enjoyable atmosphere. The album’s opener “Strange Behavior” quickly lands upon a pulsing waltz-like rhythm that continues throughout the entire tune.
“Roman Soldiers” has a more light-hearted, bright feel with a head-bobbing, swinging beat and unconventional chord progressions that lead the listener steadily through a series of verses and choruses. The next track “Tired, Pointless Crook” is propelled at lightning-paced speed by piano chords and both strummed and fingerpicked guitar with calm vocals floating above the rest of the soundscape.
Highly melodic and thought provoking alike, “For Now” reads like a poem, drawing the listener close with creative lyrics and subtle picking patterns that alternate between simple and complex. Exploring the folk-tinged genre even further, “1950s Agony” and “A Ridiculous Form of Torture” exhibit the far reaches of the spectrum from bright and cheery to ominous and solemn.
Although the vocal arrangement does not change in “Great American Rebels” the notes from the guitars and piano are allowed to reverberate ever so slightly more than they do in other songs, bringing a fuller sound to this beautiful song. Varvaro’s musical courage is highlighted in “Saint Sebastian” as he rejects traditional chording choices, instead branching out and forming his own unique progressions.
The album comes to an end with the slightly eerie, catchy “Cruel Bones” and “No Sin in Looking Prosperous,” the longest track on the entire record and a musical portrait of light and joy. Overall, Nick Varvaro’s Sunday Songs is a powerful testament to his seemingly innate ability to draw upon elements from a popular genre, then to transcend convention and produce fantastic, novel music.
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