Reece Sullivan “Arkansas”

Independent, 2022

A folksy album of loves lost, opportunities missed and the call to home.

Artwork for Reece Sullivan album 'Arkansas'Reece Sullivan is a road-tripping folk-singing troubadour whose poetic songs are embellished here with horns and vocal choruses to give his songs a more Americana sound. This is his fourth outing and contains songs that have been gestating over a long period of time. The newest song on the album is 5 years old, and the album is in effect a kind of love song to his home state, where he drove from his current home in Louisiana, with his friend and guitarist Jim McGee, to record the album.

The album moves at a very leisurely pace throughout and may leave some listeners a little sapped by the end. However one or two of the tracks lull you into a kind of addictive spell with the relentless beat and then a build up of horns and guitar, such as  ‘Be Still my Heart’, the most obvious paean to his home state, which jogs along nicely over 8 minutes and has some beautiful horn textures and a really lovely steel guitar outro “I feel the sound In my soul I hear the sound a’ calling It’s the sound of home” and  “I feel fever with the sunset I’m restless by the bay That wanderlust is on me And my soul is in Cathay”

The album begins with a wailing harmonica before Sullivan’s Dylanesque voice kicks in, on the love song ‘Till the Last Note’s in Place’.  ‘The Night’ was written for his son while on his travels, and ‘Two Hands on the Plow’ speaks to emotional and drinking issues in his past affecting a relationship “So many things were good But I destroyed them in many ways Sorrow in my heart and madness in my veins”

I am a Good Man’, the first single, also addresses drinking problems “Ol’ times are hard to leave My mind will not be tamed Good things are hard to achieve Sober life can feel so lame’” This is a bluesy number with rhythmic piano underpinning it while McGee picks off a couple of nice solos.

Bloodhound Blues’ lifts the pace a little and is a jazzy bluesy number with some very nice piano and trumpet, but the subject matter, (an assault on a young girl) may not be to everybody’s taste in an upbeat song. ‘Virginia’ shows Sullivan’s folksy poetic influences (he is apparently fond of Shakespeare)  “Lafayette In the misty, dewy morning; in the Smokey foothills, see In the misty, dewy morning; in the Smokey foothills, see Babe, I’m almost back home; almost back to thee In the misty, dewy morning; in the Smokey foothills, see”. Again some nice horn backing, but the subject matter, a relationship with an underage girl, may be a little unpalatable for some.

The overall tone of the album is one of sadness, regret, and the struggles to become a better person. This is not to denigrate Sullivan’s songwriting skills as he has recently won a couple of regional songwriting  contests, and hopefully we will get to hear these songs in due course. It could maybe benefit from a more varied pace next time, but there are some good highlights worth exploring this album for.

7/10
7/10

About FredArnold 8 Articles
Lifelong fan of predominantly US (and Canadian) country roots music. Previously an avid concert-goer before wives, kids and dogs got in the way- and although I still try to get to several, my preference for small independent venues often means standing, and that ain't too good for my ancient bones!! Still, a healthy and catholic music collection helps ease the pain

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