Wide Awake, Quinn Sullivans’s fourth album and follows up Midnight Highway. Will the music deliver the promise that Bluesdoodles heard in his previous release? How has his approach to music developed over the four years since his previous album? We listened and came to a positive conclusion.
Opening with All Around The World, the instrumentation grows, with rhythms and keys taking control in a building crescendo as Quinn opens with vocals that have a fresh summer upbeat feel. Imagine Beach Boys rocked up with a modern attitude. This creates a contemporary summer song to accompany fun and good times. But listen to the lyrics they are not saccharine froth but has a story to tell one of hope and good vibes as the chorus refrains. We also have hints of the glorious Sullivan guitar sound. The opening track sets the scene of an album showing the depth and breath of skills of a maturing artist.
Beat picks up with drums, guitar and soaring keys as we find out why She’s So Irresistible. The nod to Prince is instantly recognisable. We find another style that fits in with the new multi-layered artist who is emerging from what can be a straitjacket when you are labelled a ‘guitar prodigy’, Quinn has moved beyond this exploring sounds and textures. This is a short track demonstrating the rising confidence in this young man as he laughs at the end with joy. He knows when a song works better in a shortened form.
How Many Tears brings a soulful texture into the mix that really suits Quinn’s vocals. The song writing again is as strong as the weeping guitar with a blues vibe flooding in. A positive message that love can be kind and not make a girl cry. A gentle loving, caring song again perfectly balanced intone and length. The beat changes on a sixpence as the tempo increases with intensity and into the guitar sound we have an instrumentation that picks up with hints a summer dance rhythms as he sings In A World Without You. The guitar picks up and augments the vocals in a duet between Quinn’s to powerful allies.
This album continues to surprise with the direction of every song, as this young artist is finding his voice. She’s Gone (& She Ain’t Coming Back). Into the vocals and guitar is a smidgen of electronica creating a modern fluid sound The short guitar lead breaks will please the many fans of Quinn’s prodigious guitar playing talent. This song is so much more that the manipulation of the six-strings.
This is not an album of stop and starts as an artist jumps from one style to another. Quinn on Wide Awake has blended the depth of his guitar playing with skilful instrumentation, strong songs that explore relationships, the good, the sad and the ugly. The feel of the album is uplifting a sound for summer days. This is demonstrated on Baby Please, Real Thing, and You’re The One that are the heartbeat at the centre of the album.
The title track Wide Awake opens with a deeper. Darker tone, the drums are heavier, and the vocals are delivered with a driving intent. Once again relationships are explored Quinn Sullivan is Wide Awake demonstrating the depths of his talent then taking a moment to let his guitar to speak for him with a textural melody that screams at you listen to me.
We have some rock as we start the journey home on the album with the driving song Strawberry Rain. This is full of aural delight and the guitar purrs, crackles and entertains, then fades as Quinn’s vocals take over. This is followed with a complete volte-face with acoustic gentler song as Quinn Sullivan sings directly to Jessica.
The album closes out with Keep Up, a gentle lyrical song that confirms Quin Sullivan as a young man with immense talent on an album showcasing his skills.
If you are looking for intricate guitar, solos, powerful lead breaks on a guitar dominated album you will be disappointed. For me, the album improves with every listen as you hear more of the variety and the depth of talent this young man displays across the dozen tracks.
The variety of style collected together are blended and shaped to fit Quinn’s vision and has given him the space to explore the intricacies of modern music. Building on the past he has created a modern album full of zest and vigour bring hope and joy to the listener.
When I last reviewed Quinn Sullivan, April 2017 I concluded with “Midnight Highway gives an insight into a talent that is burgeoning will it fulfil its youthful promise time will tell. Quinn’s musical Highway is going to be I am sure long, deep and an interesting ride to share.” His 2021 album has proved me right as Wide Awake is an interesting ride and I recommend you get on board.
Bluesdoodles Rating: 4 doodle paws – what a wonderful album full of interest. With skilful instrumentation, and interpretation creating an album that is a cocktail of styles the mix is perfectly balanced.
1. All Around The World
2. She’s So Irresistible
3. How Many Tears
4. In A World Without You
5. She’s Gone (& She Ain’t Coming Back)
6. Baby Please
7. Real Thing
8. You’re The One
9. Wide Awake
10. Strawberry Rain
12. Keep Up