Jazz-tinged pop, funked-out rock and a few divine basslines
BY SAM SPOKONY | Halfway through the title track to his new album, “Hereafter,” Sean Sullivan imagines himself in the afterlife, taking a scat solo in the presence of God.
“Is that OK Lord?” Sullivan asks of the biblical creator, who is apparently playing bass in a band led by Moses, which also features Jesus on saxophone. Well, God seems to dig the solo, while of course reminding the vocalist that “music is the answer and love is gonna set you free!”
Aside from the existential implications of picturing this situation — God isn’t even playing a melody instrument? — it certainly illustrates the kind of free spirit and engaging sense of humor that Sullivan brings to all of his work, alongside his strong-yet-nimble vocal presence.
Tribeca singer/songwriter’s latest marked by sheer eclecticism
At every turn, “Hereafter” is marked by the sheer eclecticism that the Southern-born, Tribeca-based singer/songwriter brings to the table in all aspects of his performance. Including the down-home-bluesy title track, the record features eight originals that move back and forth between the chilled out, ethereal vibes of “Don’t Get Me Started” and the backbeat stomp of “Ready,” as Sullivan’s jazz influences come through in his fluid phrasing, tonal precision and ability to push a big, swinging band forward with every line.
The album also shows off Sullivan’s strength as a thoroughly passionate interpreter of tunes, and, among its four covers, highlights include a beautifully embellished ballad version of Bob Marley’s “Waiting in Vain,” and a similarly rich and contemplative take on Stevie Wonder’s “Until You Come Back To Me.”
Overall, the album is a joyful romp that is by no means short on serious talent — and it’s clear that the singer is having just as much fun as his listeners. It’s all made even better by inventive solos and interplay by the 10 piece band backing Sullivan, as well as the efforts of renowned jazz producer Matt Pierson, whose experience has helped to shape the record’s full, balanced tone.
“Hereafter,” which was released on Jan. 21, is available online. To purchase a copy, visit seansongs.com. Listeners should also check out the site this week to find out when the singer will be playing his CD release show, which will likely be take place within his home neighborhood of Tribeca.