This young (early 20s I am told) Tucsonan's debut release gathers together some of the diverse ethnic influences of his hometown into a music stew that reflects the rich music scene he grew up in, and then adds to it his own experience. When you first put this disc on you think the wrong disc was placed in the cover because what comes out seems as if it is Tom Waits' growly gravelly voice along with some sonic distortion. Actually he just sounds an awful lot like Mr. Waits because of his voice has that same rough sandpaper quality. The music is a mélange of blues, country folk, hard twangy punk, and something bordering on show tunes a la Kurt Weil. These are his songs as he wrote 12 of the 13 songs, the odd one out was written by another of Tucson's fine experimental musicians Rainer Ptacek (someone well worth investigating for his innovative work; he was a big favorite of Robert Plant).
It would be very easy to dismiss Sullivan as a Tom Waits imitator because of his voice, however that would be to sell him far short of his ability. There is a very stripped down quality to his work; a rawness that exacerbates and opens wounds so they can heal. He brings in a fine collection of musicians to help him with this project including Tom Walbank on harp, and Nick Luca and Joey Burns of Calexico. For an initial release under his own name he has a lot to say, interesting songs, and the disc offers solid promise for the future.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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