Phil Vassar is getting back to basics on his new EP, Stripped Down, and he's giving Taste of Country readers an exclusive first listen to one of the new tracks. Click above to hear Vassar's new recording of "Postmarked Birmingham."

Vassar teamed with Don Sampson to write "Postmarked Birmingham," which gave BlackHawk a Top 40 hit when they released it as the second single from their Love & Gravity album in October of 1997.

“I think 'Postmarked Birmingham' is one of the first songs I have had recorded," Vassar says. "It has always been one of my favorites and it is just one of those songs that throughout the years so many people have told me how much they love that song and how I needed to record that song. When we started planning this album I knew I wanted to include it."

His version for Stripped Down is very different from BlackHawk's studio recording. Their arrangement relies on lush vocal harmonies, piano, strings and drums, while Vassar delivers the song in a starker fashion that keeps the focus on his voice and piano, de-emphasizing the light harmonies and percussion track that percolate underneath.

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"Originally, when I wrote the song I did just a piano and vocal on it," he explains. "Then of course BlackHawk put out an amazing version with much more production and it did really well for them. I’m really proud of this new recording and I love the way we did it. I think it is one of those songs where the song itself can stand on its own, without all the extra stuff.”

Stripped Down is set for release on Friday (Jan. 17), and Vassar is promoting the project with a tour of the same name that launched on Jan. 8 and runs through Feb. 14.

He also has a new show on the Circle Network, Phil Vassar’s Songs from the Cellar. The show will feature Vassar and celebrity guests sampling cocktails in his personal wine cellar and sharing songs and stories. Guests for the first season include Mike Tyson, Styx frontman Tommy Shaw, Nashville star Charles Esten, Jessie James Decker, Cam, legendary guitarist and songwriter Steve Cropper and more.

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