In the Presence of the Kingdom

by Logan Vath

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about

Logan Vath
In the Presence of the Kingdom EP

“I’ve always been impressed with Logan and his music, but this EP is a huge step forward. It reminds me of Heartbreaker-era Ryan Adams.” — Singer-songwriter Tyler Lyle

Heritage is a funny thing. So funny, in fact, you might say sometimes it acts like a recessive gene. Growing up in Nebraska, Logan Vath didn’t acquire his passion for songwriting from his mom or dad, who split up when he was young. Excepting his own interest in grunge legends like Nirvana and Pearl Jam, and the eclectic roster of nearby indie label Saddle Creek, his home environment wasn’t notable for its love of music. But then he inherited his grandfather’s guitar, a 1962 Gretsch White Falcon.

“It’s a strange item,” says the 26-year-old singer-songwriter, now based out of Portsmouth, Virginia. Vath never knew his biological grandad, a gig musician who died in a car crash before he was born. “It has so much meaning to so many people in my family, but I feel pretty distant from it, and a grief I never knew. I don’t know quite how to handle it.”

Yet Vath’s natural ability as both a vocalist and songwriter, dual talents he had been nurturing since high school, gracefully bridges that distance, stitching together past and present in a wonderful folk narrative called In the Presence of the Kingdom, his new EP.

Vath sings with the warmth of a country artist, but there’s enough smoke and gravel in his tone that suggests the genre’s folkier fringes, like the dust-caked howlings of Townes Van Zandt, and the shuffling edge of Dylan. Packing enough feeling into these five songs for albums twice as long, Vath explores a dynamic, shifting, emotional landscape where broken hearts, regret, and doubt share equal billing with wonder, joy, and the wisdom that comes with age.

“I would definitely say it’s a coming of age album,” Vath says, “as it deals with some loss of innocence.” He explains the album’s title refers to his feelings when he left the Navy after a four-year stint directly following high school. It’s lifted from the third track, “Battle Royale,” where he deals with the subject explicitly.

“I had a lot of pressure from my family, about money and what I was doing, chasing this little dream of mine. It’s about everything that’s bigger than me, my parents, the government, money, taxes, and how those things influence our ability to pursue what feels comfortable to us. For me, it’s figuring out life post-Navy, without the income I was used to, which was pretty good for a 23-year-old kid. I wrote ‘Battle Royale’ at a time when I was a little regretful about leaving this comfortable world, but at the same time understanding that comfort can be a little dangerous.”

The theme is recurring. Opening track “Nebraska,” a bittersweet nod to his home state, explores in meandering prose the tremendous influence that family and place has on a person, for better and worse. Over a languid acoustic guitar, Vath sings wistfully of his grandfather’s legacy—“My eyes/They been passed down from your hands to mine/The blue in them it seems to remind of/Summer wine and the songs of your time”—and the more mundane aspects of life in a flyover state: “That’s home/The place no one else cares to go.”

Adding to each song’s compositional heft is the delicate production of Daniel Mendez (Noah Gundersen, Dashboard Confessional, Duran Duran), who Vath contacted about the project personally. “I wanted to be pushed by someone and he’s good at that, and he’s a studious worker who could teach me about the professional recording world,” Vath says. Mendez in turn provided just that, bringing in an aces studio team eager to work with the artist in Mendez's Brooklyn studio. Gentle flourishes of electric guitar, drums, piano, and bass add a lush Americana feel while positioning Vath’s vocals and rhythm playing front and center.

As it should be. After sorting through the confusion of what other people wanted for him, Vath came to realize he was to pursue the songwriter’s life, with all its ups and downs. “I never really knew what I wanted to be until I started playing guitar,” he says. “When I was in the military, I gathered a lot of material items because that’s what you do. And they were things I liked and at the time they were milestones.” He pauses, considering the very different path he’s chosen since then. “But you don’t have to live a milestone life to be happy.”

Perhaps that’s what makes In the Presence of the Kingdom so right in time. Sonically, it doesn’t push too hard, and listeners aren’t pummeled with pedantic lyrics. Instead, Kingdom finds its way steadily, following its own instincts, ever in tune with Vath’s squarely centered heart. Surely there’s some magic here, passed along from grandfather, but there’s no question Vath’s Kingdom is all his own.  

credits

released July 22, 2016

Produced by Daniel Mendez & Logan Vath

All songs written by Logan Vath

Engineered & Mixed by Daniel Mendez

Mastered by Ed Brooks

Additional Engineering by Mark Padgett

Logan Vath - Vocals, Acoustic Guitar

Brad Allen Williams - Electric Guitars

Jason Wexler - Piano

Andrew Benfante - Piano

Daniel Mendez - Organ

Nolan Thies - Bass

Cooper Heffley - Drums, Percussion

Logan Vath, Daniel Mendez, and Jake Hull - Background Vocals

Licensing inquiries: daniel@headabovewatersongs.com




Thank you to: Holly Brown, Scott Vath, Evan Vath, Delani Brisco, Daniel Mendez, Mark Padgett, Eric Stevens, Karl Dornemann, MaryEllen Fournier, Kyle Dunovan, Andrew Michael Montgomery, Adam Jones, Andrew Benfante, The Last Bison, Kelsie McNair, Caitlin Pasko, Doug Makuta, The Native Sibling, Jeremiah Daly, Sinead Burgess, Nicholas Docherty, and all the other friends and family who helped and inspired me during the making of In the Presence of the Kingdom.

Extra thanks to AJ Jump

A very specific and special thanks to Taylor Houston: Without your continued confidence, understanding, and friendship, I would’ve stopped doing this years ago.

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Track Name: Nebraska
My home is the deepest, greenest ocean I know
with the widest running prairie and cold
cold windy nights, I’ve been driving alone.
Yeah, that’s home - the place no one else cares to go
the summers they burn through the snow
the yellow sun, it dies, as it dives down below

Ain’t it like Nebraska to kick you when you’re down
when the bottle is up and the world’s gonna drown?
Ain’t it like Nebraska to feed you when you’re full
and her trains keep on pushing though they’re all out of coal

This sky - well it don’t dance like she does at night
with every old light burning bright
and yearning to fight, fight to the white.
And my eyes, they’ve been passed down from your hands to mine
the blue in them it seems to remind of summer wine and the songs of you’re time.

(Chorus)

Ain’t it like Nebraska to smile when you’re down?
There’s a green in the garden when the rain won’t come out.
Ain’t it like Nebraska to bleed when you ache?
To replace what’s been missing when there’s none left to take.
Track Name: Every Town
Well this town’s on fire and there’s no hope for you left
you’re going under with just the soul of this ship
you cannot float, you cannot swim, you’ve lost all control again
and there’s no way that you’ll be getting out alive

When I met you I was young and I thought love would be enough
the truth I’ve learned is, sometimes, people just give up
we cannot write, we cannot lie, we’ve both tried to many times
and there’s no reason we can’t make it out alive.

So don’t you get stuck, just get out of this
‘cause you don’t wanna’ do like your father did
and his father did before - you’re just a new man at the door
with a higher priced cup of coffee, you should go

The doors are never locked, and about the past everybody talks
there’s a world so different from the one you’ve been taught
you don’t have to settle to settle down
there’s a place that wants you out
and there’s no reason you can’t make it out alive (x2)

So don’t you get stuck just get out of this
‘cause you don’t wanna’ do like your mother did
and her mother did before - the new rain of an old storm
just a higher rise to the water line, you should go.

The scary part it seems is that the people all are me
and the world I’ve left is just the world it’s gonna be.
I cannot mind if I cannot find a better place to waste my time
who was I to think that I’d make it out alive?
Track Name: The Candidate
Everything philosophy has tried to teach me, I believe
all I had to make was mistakes
‘cause our life’s like a book our own personal look
we keep writing though the world says erase.
So I’ll amend my regrets, mark over my secrets
for all the things I still have to lose.
Yeah, but no one knows this context
you are all just mislead, realizing I’ve got nothing to prove.

You can’t lie to me - no, I can simply bend and pretend it to be what I need.

This night is burning like a cigarette that is resting on my grandma’s lips
I would be obliged for her advice.
Bring back the simple and true, bring back the western in you
any good thought is worth thinking twice.
So I’ve been smiling at the stars while I’m stumbling out of bars
sometimes last call even takes way my feet.
I see all my losses in the sky, and I know more will come tonight
my victories I can still keep.

You can’t lie to me - no I can twist and turn the valleys and the alleys to point back toward my beliefs (x2)

So I’ve been trusting like a candidate that has all but lost his relevance
in a world where he was nearly the king.
From a million smiling faces to the one his shadow chases
broken mirrors still are able to see.
You know it’s times like this I come to grips that everybody’s full of shit
cynical like this old man I am.
Here I’m racing to my heartbeat while the future’s got me panicking
I would fire if I could steady my hands.

You can’t lie to me - I can redesign the caverns, use the lanterns to find my beliefs
You can’t lie to me - I hear your incoherent mumbling and there’s nothing that I”m picking up as truth (x3)
Track Name: Battle Royale
You’re still young, you’re still learning
we tell ourselves the days we’re hurting.
You’ll get it right tomorrow
and the money’s tight, but oh well.

No one ever told me growing up was like a battle royale
in the presence of the kingdom, I don’t even think that we can just be ourselves.

The cards we play for games sake
they stick around once the game’s been played.
And they give away the tells and tricks used
from the hardest days that we get through

No one ever told me growing up was like a battle royale
in the presence of the kingdom I don’t even think that we can just be ourselves
and we’re born in it, live in it, fight for it, and die for it - it’s full-circle ‘round
in the presence of the kingdom I don’t even think that we can make one single sound

But I’m up from the ground, it’s terribly loud
and the lost cause of all we are can’t be found
the consequence is ignorance - blame our intelligence
the youth we pulled and stole from the hands that we called
our old friends and family, so distant yet mean everything
they find us not is effigies, old postcards, and memories
the things that came and once were, to the ones that being us comfort
they reside inside the hearts and minds of all that we are but still

No one ever told me growing up was like a battle royale
in the presence of the kingdom I don’t even think that we can just be ourselves
and we’re born in it, live in it, fight for it, and die for it - it’s full-circle ‘round
in the presence of the kingdom I don’t even think that we can make one single sound
Track Name: Linen
Well I ain’t a liar but lately I’ve been bending the truth a little bit
been scared to let you know what I’m thinking so I don’t
and I thought by now we’d have it all figured out
the only thing I know is that the way down has happened
so much quicker than the climb that brought us up.
So what makes a man feel weak in the middle?
Like he is bending wire, heating up in the center
when it comes to break it never comes as surprise at all.

I’ve been driving too long now to think about it
the sun’s about set over the Carolinas

So letting go is hard I know
and it seems like it always comes to show
that I do not love you like you love me
warm nights with a big sky
she follows me close with her linen eye
I do not love you like you love me

Still awake, another evening on the table
I am shaking harder than a dove-white December
I’m lost again, and I am hell bent on getting out of it.
You’ve been something tragic and distant I’ll never truly know
you’re like my white-worn cross on the side of the road
and though I stop to feel you I may never call you my own.
As I pull away, your impact is laid
blue blanket tide to the banks of me
like all good tide you return to where you came.

But I’ve been driving too long now to try to fight it
the sun’s about set over the Carolinas.

‘Cause letting go is hard I know
and it seems like it always come to show
that I do not love you like you love me
warm nights with a big sky
she follows me close with her linen eye
I do not love you like you love me (x3)