With “Always on My Mind,” 29-year-old singer-songwriter Varcy updates the oft-covered classic for 2023 with a country-reggae twist.
The genre-blending arrangement feels just right adjacent to Varcy’s sweet and soulful tone, thanks to producers Jah Born and Jordache Grant, as well as Dallas-based guitarist Charley Wiles.
“It’s the melody,” the Bahamian vocalist says of the original song, and why she wanted to cover it. “It’s just so well-written; it’s a classic.”
Varcy, who grew up on reggae, R&B, and pop radio, came to Dallas seeking both musical mentorship and a home away from home to record. She found both in DFW, but the former in particular with Grant (currently on tour with Abraham Alexander) and Jah Born (local studio legend and longtime collaborator of Erykah Badu).
During her time spent in Texas, she accompanied Grant on a trip to Willie Nelson’s Luck Ranch in Spicewood, Texas, where she heard Jonathan Terrell cover Harry Styles’ “As It Was.”
“That was the first time I really heard the pedal steel guitar,” Varcy says. “Ever since then, I was fascinated with that sound.”
Grant then tapped Charley Wiles (currently guitarist for Paul Cauthen) to add a sultry, Western flair to their version of the timeless track.
“We still pay tribute to the original and keep the purity of the country side of the story,” Grant says, “but we’re fusing it with straight reggae.” While he lives in Dallas now, Grant, like Varcy, was also born and raised in the Bahamas.
It became full-circle at that point, considering Willie Nelson’s cover of “Always On My Mind” is arguably one of the best (and not that awards matter all that much, but he did win a GRAMMY for it).
“I just love the fusion of it,” Varcy says of the cover. “I just can’t get over how the country and the reggae meet that way—merging the cultures together.”