Relief's album art


Second semester sophomore year of engineering is what separates the men and women from the boys and girls, so to speak. Sink or swim was the name of the game. Weekdays were 17 credit hours of classes, swim team practice, and research work all with the usual routine of a test per week and homework. Weekends were spent picking up all the loose ends that fell through the cracks from the previous week and preparing for the next. To quote my shampoo bottle, “Lather, Rinse, Repeat”. Needless to say, I was beat and stuck deep in a rut.

One Saturday night, I had decided that it was time to close the planner and turn the speaker on. I had accumulated quite the backlog of albums in my iTunes “Recently Added” section, all with play counts of zero. I decided to start with one of the more recent albums Marc sent me—Vacationer’s Relief. That night, harmonies from a heavenly chorus arranged with exotic drum1 filled my fluorescent lit 11’x11’ cube room.

With the same heart and sincerity as a friend or loved one would convey, Kenny Vasoli’s smooth, soothing voice expressed his desire for me to let my mind wander where my heart would go.

Want you to stay
wherever your heart would go.
Want you to make it
About what your life is for

As the last strokes of the harp faded away, I no longer felt like I was laying on my dorm room bed on a cold, dull Milwaukee spring evening. I instead felt like I was stepping into my own dream paradise. I found myself experiencing the heat of the first 80° day, the bliss of a summer love, and the liberating excitement of an adventurous vacation—I found relief.

The First 80° Day

The Midwest’s climate inertia usually means the temperature refuses to fit the calendar month in the early spring. However, there are always rare days when the temperature spontaneously accelerates to reach the coveted first 80° day; the day that most Midwesterners, delusional from the long winter days, swore was a myth. For those of us within the Midwest or areas of the world with similarly long winters, the first 80° day is magical. Tense muscles relax in response to the welcome burn of the sun. The mind clears and stress evaporates like water. The only thought on one’s mind is the near arrival of summer—the “Paradise Waiting”.

Vacationer’s jaunty piano and rhythmic bass carry the smooth-going tempo from “Stay” and encapsulate the feeling of the first 80° day like none other. “Paradise Waiting” has the power to transform the world around the listener. No matter what their latitude, Vasoli and company ensure that the listener will feel the warm, relaxing glow from the sun—providing the reassurance that in any season “there’s paradise waiting for us in summertime”.

However, even when this sun-filled nirvana arrives, life is neither perfect nor paradise. Soon, we adjust, and the warm glow of the sun turns from something previously cherished to something typical and expected. The novelty of summer’s arrival slowly decreases, and—even in the beautiful summer months—life can continue to wear on us. Vacationer’s prescription? Unleash your inner cold-blooded animal, and bask in the grass. Dr. Vasoli and company juxtapose this lazy subject matter with a high voltage jolt to the smooth, easy-going tempo carried through the album up to this point. A racing synth and thumping bass drive this chilldozer™2 as the listener’s worries dissolve and float away in the breeze, riding just above the blades of grass.

Breeze keeps coming…
Dreams keep coming…
Breeze keeps coming, dreams keep coming to life…

The Summer Love

With simple yet elegant lyricism akin to Walk the Moon, in the back-to-back duo of “Fresh” and “Go Anywhere”, Vacationer brings the listener to the early days with a new love and the feeling of bliss that comes with the realization that this new love is “the one”. Whether it be with a summer fling or “the one”, the early days of a relationship are full of infatuation and carelessness for previous woes. In “Fresh”, with a head-bob inducing beat, Vacationer evoke memories of the fun, butterflies-in-the-stomach times had during a fresh, new relationship.

Just as a romantic relationship transitions from the infatuation stage to the compassion stage, so does Vacationer transition from “Fresh” to “Go Anywhere”. As the strumming bass fades out in “Fresh”, a unique, mellow beat from a medley of tropical drums reign in the tonal shift in “Go Anywhere”. Whether or not you have met that special someone, Vacationer enables the listener to experience the bliss and comfort associated with the heartfelt assurance that a person is the love of your life. As Vacationer describes, all life fades out and all that is left is relief and the knowledge that “it could go anywhere”.

The Adventurous Vacation

During childhood, summer was more than just a seasonal change. It meant long sunny evenings, no responsibilities, and—of course—freedom from school. As we grow older, the summer months lose their significance. The joy and liberation of the last school bell in early June is replaced with “See you tomorrow, Bob”. The three month holy grail vacation no longer exists. However, this feeling of joy and liberation, while less frequent, can still be found through travel. Jimmy Buffett perfectly describes this in reference to his trip to Costa Rica.

When you are traveling on a trip like this in the right frame of mind, time and space will change. Things that seemed absolutely necessary two days ago slip from your mind. You find yourself looking out the window of the plane, boat, or car and daydreaming about going native. Time becomes something to be used, not saved.

Jimmy Buffett “A Pirate Looks at Fifty”

In “Vision”, the fanciful flute and beating hand drum have the power to put anyone in a special kind of bubbly mood—the type that accompanies the exploration of somewhere new. With the flute being the wandering, daydreaming mind and the steady hand drums being the excited, perky motion of the body, this Vacationer-led exploration takes us to that moment when time and space change. That moment of awe and stupefaction that accompanies the discovery of true, natural beauty—when the mind struggles to contemplate the power and elegance of nature. The lure of this beauty starts conjuring the thoughts Jimmy Buffett experienced in Costa Rica—the thoughts and temptation of abandoning all ties to the modern world, going native, and embracing the “Wild Life”.

Vacationer’s brilliant choice of exotic samples and atmospheric nature sounds integrated with bass driven tropical pop create a relaxing, whimsical, dreamlike auditory vacation spot for the listener. Vasoli and company enable the listener to leave their physical location and transport to whatever escapist location and experience they desire, whether it’s the summit of a mountain, the coast of somewhere beautiful, a daytime walk in a foreign city, a summer’s nap with your love, or a frolic in a lake’s hidden sandbar. Next time the monotony, stress, and worries start to build, press play and let Vacationer take you on a trip to your personal place of Relief.

It’s the dawn of the time of relief
It could mean everything


  1. Vacationer artfully incorporates this source material in Stay ↩︎

  2. Trademark Kenny Vasoli ↩︎