Quinn Sullivan: Salvation Review

On June 7, Quinn Sullivan brought his fifth album Salvation into this world. 25 years ago, Carol and Terry Sullivan brought their son Quinn into this world. 22 years ago, young Quinn would have a guitar in his hands. Three years later, he was performing live shows. An appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show would set the trajectory for a rapid rise to prominence. At eight years old he caught the attention of blues legend Buddy Guy who called the youngster on stage at the Zeiterion Theater in Sullivan’s hometown New Bedford, MA. Guy would take the promising Quinn under his mentorship. A childhood filled with a love of guitar, family trips to live shows and festivals, and a household filled with the sounds of ’60s and ’70s rock, soul, and R&B classics would lead one to believe Quinn’s musical calling was set. However, it also took passion, love, and desire to fuel this destiny. Quinn’s first album Cyclone was released when he was 12 years old. By then, the pre-teen had already appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show and The Today Show as well as opening for Buddy Guy during the summer (there was school to be attended) and playing his own sets at Lollapalooza and the Austin City Limits Festival.

Sullivan spent his teen years maturing his craft touring with his mentor and making more television appearances. Adding the likes of The Tonight Show and Late Night to stage appearances at the 2013 Crossroads Guitar Festival in Madison Square Garden and The Mahindra Blues Festival in India to a growing resume, Quinn would also release two more albums before his 21st birthday. 2017’s Midnight Highway peaked at number 3 on the Billboard Top Blues Albums Chart.

Tragedy struck when Quinn’s mother Carol passed away from a sudden illness in July of 2022. She was just 57 years old. Overcoming loss and heartbreak are themes ingrained in Salvation. However, this is more of an album of introspective reconciliation and moving forward than it is one of despair and hopelessness. Musically Salvation features the sounds of Quinn’s childhood with ’70s soul and R&B influences on tracks like “Nothin’ Gonna Change my Mind”, “Better in Love”, the catchy “Once Upon a Lie” with its jazz riffs reminiscent of George Benson, and the soulful tribute to his mother “Eyes on Me”.  The title track “Salvation (Make Me Wanna Pray)” features a more classic rock sound with its Hendrix style riffs. The bonus live track “Eyesight to the Blind” further features Quinn’s virtuoso guitar chops. “Don’t Wanna Die Today” is another classic rock track that gets the blood pumping. Sullivan adds a little rockabilly and slide to the motivational “Rise Up Children.” “I Can’t Stay (And You Can’t Go)” adds a more traditional blues track (with a dash of pop) to the album’s menu. “Half My Heart” is the closest thing to a ballad on an album that is largely more chill in its nature. “Leave No Love Behind” adds a pop-jazz-rock flavor that reminds me of the sound that brought Pablo Cruise airplay back in the ’70s.

Salvation is an appropriately titled album for an artist who has lived anything but an ordinary life but still faces the hard realities life brings. Quinn’s genre blending compositions are unusual in our world of searing guitar shredders. Yet, the sounds are so familiar for those of us who remember the “smooth rock” sounds of the pre-disco seventies. The messaging offers words of hope and wisdom beyond Quinn’s quarter of a century on this planet. Together they deliver an album that is easy on the ears and inspiring to those seeking hope.

The Review: 8/10

Can’t Miss Tracks

– Salvation (Make Me Wanna Pray)
– Rise Up Children
– Once Upon a Lie 
– Leave No Love Behind 

The Big Hit

– Salvation (Make me Wanna Pray)

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