Lou Vargo | Sunday Night Serenade

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Sunday Night Serenade

by Lou Vargo

A melodic, intelligent, sometimes dark, album that comes face to face with personal demons and the loss of the American dream.
Genre: Rock: Americana
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Ungone
2:54 $0.99
2. Emily
4:30 $0.99
3. Would I
1:39 $0.99
4. Down In the Well
3:06 $0.99
5. American Disaster
4:50 $0.99
6. Doing Fine
4:00 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Like the music that Lou Vargo writes and performs, the title of his latest album, Sunday Night Serenade, is both specific and elusive.

It suggests something specific, perhaps a moment to reflect at the end of the week. But it also forecasts something to come in the morning ahead. Whether it be a continuation of familiar challenges or a reason to hope for something greater is the mystery that Vargo addresses in his songs.

The desolate tableau of whiskey and motel rooms on “Ungone” … the guilt that comes with an attempt to flee from loneliness on “Emily” … the hunger for truth that leads to places where “even preachers can’t tell lies” on “Down in the Well” … These and the other offerings on Sunday Night Serenade ring true, like the peal of a bell whose resonance is both bleak and beautiful.

Vargo’s songs are postcards sent from travels through shadows. He sings intimately and conversationally over a spare instrumental backup, transforming each song into a light shining against this darkness and transporting listeners through a chronicle of his life toward insights into their own situations.

To get to this point as an artist, Vargo followed a path whose first steps established that life can be uncertain. He was raised in Detroit, the youngest of eight children. His father, a truck driver and active Teamster, was 54 when Lou was born; his mother was 43. Their neighborhood, a blue-collar community of Hungarian, Polish and German families, already mirrored the city’s post-industrial decline as Lou began his journey.

“I knew how old my parents were,” he says. “And by the time I was six or seven, I was doing the math. That taught me early on how tenuous life could be, which affected the way I came to look at living.”

At the same time, he got to spend a good amount of time with his father, who retired when Lou was nine. The benefits of their time together were musical as well as personal, in the form of folk songs passed down from one to the other. “Dad had been raised in the oral tradition of folk music,” Vargo says. “He would sing those songs without even knowing that some of them were written by Woody Guthrie, for example. That was a part of my education, along with the Stones, the New York Dolls, Television and all the other music I was listening to.”

The urge to explore drew Vargo away from Detroit when he went to college. He wound up eventually outside of Phoenix, where he earned a master’s degree from the The American Graduate School of International Management. With a specialty in the Central and Eastern European economies, he spent time abroad, studying and working, and embarked on what looked like a promising career in the corporate world.

That came to an end for a simple reason. “I was miserable,” he admits. “I couldn’t picture myself being happy in that world.”

By this time, though, Vargo had discovered writing as an outlet. He began with prose and poetry but, with melodies just as much a part of his concept as words, he taught himself to play enough guitar at age 25 to express his ideas musically. His range broadened as he absorbed the lessons of Dylan, Townes Van Zandt and Steve Earle, among other influences. He developed an approach based on intuition as much as craft, which allowed him to draw from life – but sometimes abstractly, suggesting more than articulating the essence of his experience.

“I like to write in the morning, when I’m closest to dream state,” he says. “You hear a melody line behind a chord differently. For me, that’s the germ of the song. And then the movie starts and I create this story in my head.”

After gigging and recording with the band Four Mile Mule, Vargo switched his focus to working solo. His debut album, American Disaster, won notice not only in the U.S. but abroad as well, with Americana U.K. noting that his music “talks with a resonance that any country/folk fan will instantly recognize and fall in love with,” a writer with the German site www.home-of-rock.de admitting “Lou Vargo stirred emotions in me that I thought had long hopelessly buried,” Britain’s Net Rhythms, naming American Disaster to its “Best of 2008” list, cheering, “Way to go, Louie!” and Italian critic Salvatore Esposito predicting that “if these are the foundations for the future, then Lou Vargo will certainly reward our expectations.”

Esposito’s hopes are fulfilled on Sunday Night Serenade. From the tracks mentioned above to the trucker lament “Doing Fine,” the tantalizing miniature “Would I” and the epic ruminations woven through “American Disaster,” Vargo works with producer Don Kerce to project a sweeping vision, an ear for detail and an ability to reflect the poetry of his message from both perspectives.

“For me, Sunday Night Serenade is about loss,” Vargo says. “Every one of these songs touches on something real in my life. They’re not necessarily about where I am now. Sometimes it takes me a good amount of time, even five or six years, to get out of the room so that I can look back with some perspective. But everything on here does tell a true story.”

Loss may be the theme of this memorable album. But clearly Sunday Night Serenade is also about discovery – of an artist whose stories and songs are just beginning.



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