The Americana tunesmith digs even deeper into his storytelling well
David Quinn’s third record details the adventure and weariness of the open road, proving he is just getting started.
The weight of life can be equal parts crushing and invigorating. “I don’t want to feel so goddamn angry every day,” Quinn twists the lyrical knife with “I Just Want to Feel Alright.” The deep cut from his third record, Country Fresh, barely scoots along the dirt, a funeral march buried in heartache and tears. Quinn reels from unimaginable pain, and it coats the entire 12-piece in a thick haze. It’s almost suffocating, the way he captures the full scope of human experience with such intensely-personal, sulphuric songwriting. It’s his most full-bodied record, culling distinctly more midwestern roots, while remaining connected to his trusty musical touchstones.
Artist: David Quinn
Album: Country Fresh
Label: Down Home Records/Soundly Music
★★★★ (4/5 stars)
Three years ago, Quinn found himself in the eye of a cyclone, with his personal life collapsing into shambles. He turned ruin into redemption with his debut, Wanderin’ Fool, a watershed moment personally and professionally. Country Fresh is perfectly pressed from a similar transformation but rendered through renewed ambition and curiosity for the craft. Once the pandemic hit, the singer/songwriter packed up his Chicago digs and shuffled off to a secluded cabin in Indiana, perched on a lake. The serenity brought both peace and creative fuel.
The title track, borrowing its creed from an ashtray imprint, best encompasses the stylistic scope. Fiddles wind and cry with glistening sharpness, courtesy of genre mainstay Fats Kaplin (John Prine, Trisha Yearwood), and gear the listener up for a hootenanny of a good time. “Low Down” shakes and shimmies with the same rowdiness, as Quinn chases down sunsets from one town to the next. A restlessness leaps from deep within his bones 一 funneled into some of his most bitingly dark and weary stories.
In “Down Home,” sidewinding with delicious swampiness, he determines its long-overdue to leave city life behind. “Take me out of this big ole city,” he sings. He pulls up stakes, declaring he’s “pretty tired of this way of living,” and forges ahead into the unknown. “Boy from Illinois,” “Grassy Trails,” and “Heartland” relishes in the adventure, each vital rest stops along Quinn’s ongoing journey.
Where “Cornbread and Chili” salutes scrumptious food items (“It’s a good-eatin’, honey-sweetin’ life for me,” he barks), Quinn later serves a pair of restrained, gutting performances. “I Came Back to You (To Say Goodbye)” finally puts a former love to rest, and “Long Road” sketches the loneliness endured on the highway, as his physical and emotional forms have both taken an irreparable beating. “So, when I’m gone, just forget about my name / Don’t you mourn me none,” he weeps.
David Quinn rolls the dice in more ways than one. Country Fresh, engineered and mixed by Mike Stankiewicz, even sees him spinning in the producer’s chair. Through such a singular voice, the songs feel earthy and lived-in, as if they’re long-forgotten recordings only newly recovered and remastered. With a bevy of musicians in tow, including Miles Miller (drums), Jamie Davis (guitar), Micah Hulscher (piano), Brett Resnick (pedal steel), Laur Joamets (slide, solos), and Andy Holcomb (bass), Quinn catapults into the next echelon of his career. It’s the mark of a truly extraordinary storyteller when he just keeps getting better and better with each record release.
Wanderin’ Fool, Letting Go, and now Country Fresh 一 what a damn fine catalog.
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