Review of Slightly South of Stormy Clouds
by Kabir Seghal
(New York Times / Wall Street Journal Best Selling Author, Multi-Grammy and Latin Grammy Award Winner)
Slightly South of Stormy Clouds by Quinn Hedges is a beautiful offering from a versatile artist that has worked in a plethora of genres including folk, rock, and jazz, as well as the blues. The latest album from the artist is a wonderful exhibition of his breadth, virtuosity, and unique artistic and compositional voice.
Heartbreak Goes Both Ways begins with expertly orchestrated strings and piano (arranged by John B Hedges). The upper string harmonics are glittery and ethereal, setting the stage for a heartfelt song. The improvisatory cello responses take on an immediately bluesy turn with soulful glissandi. The artist’s voice lays nicely over this, and when the guitar comes in, we are led into a gorgeous ballad.
You Don’t Even Know picks up the pace, adding a danceable drum beat to the mix. Strings do a fine job of responding to the groove and vocal line. Forever More takes on an authentically folk quality, with catchy vocal line, beautifully harmonized backup vocals, and rhythmic acoustic guitar accompaniment that is evocative of what we might sing sitting around a campfire. In these first three tracks, the artist has given us a full purview of what he is capable of, and he leaves the listener wanting more.
Honey is a short interlude track – just voice and guitar – with a unique reverb and processing that is reminiscent of what we might hear on a Led Zeppelin album. This is a nice treat and an excellent prelude into Loss For Words, an intimate jazz ballad that includes saxophone and trumpet accompaniment, jazz piano playing that support the vocalist’s lines with imitation and harmony. The piano solo and harmon mute trumpet obbligato line on this track are extra-special treats. Stay brings back the classic-rock feel with both electric guitar and twelve-string guitar – again we hear the artist’s Led Zeppelin influence. At the midway point of this album, we have a comprehensive look into the multi genre abilities of this artist – and he’s surely got more in store for us.
More surprises, indeed: next is Fly Away, a bonafide funk tune, complete with funk guitar riffs, responsorial horns, and Hammond organ, slap bass, and funk backbeat in the drums. The chorus features choral background vocals that are reminiscent, momentarily, of gospel. It begs the question: is there anything this artist can’t do?
I’m Gone is one of the heavier tunes on the album, bringing the artist fully into the realm of alt-rock and metal. The verses are simmering and quiet, while the choruses explode into full on heavy metal. Excellent! A real highlight of the album. As is to be expected of the artist, though, we don’t stay heavy for very long: next is Anymore, a strings-and-guitar acoustic ballad offering from the artist that brings us back into the world of acoustic folk rock.
Starting Today begins with a gorgeous bluesy piano solo. The voice joins, giving the momentary feel of an old-timey blues song; soon after, the rest of the band joins, bringing the blues tune to the present in a fully blues-rock, uptempo and spirited song. This one is catchy and modern with a firm grounding in tradition with saxophone responses, authentic comping in the piano, and bluesy harmonies. Great work!
Calm Down is the penultimate track on this tune. Like Honey, it’s short and sweet and serves as a nice prelude to the final track of the album, My Angel. The artist does an excellent job here of bringing the listener back to a more introspective mood after Starting Today and I’m Gone, two of the heaviest and most uptempo works on the album. My Angel is a beautiful, folky love song featuring just guitar and voice, and later, drums (brushes). This intimate tune brings us home – it is sentimental, sweet, and heartrendingly simple – and the artist has been successful in keeping the listener engaged through the entire album. An excellent contribution, through and through.
Written by Kabir Sehgal (New York Times / Wall Street Journal Best Selling Author, Multi-Grammy and Latin Grammy Award Winner)