Album Review – David Quinn’s “Letting Go”

With the embarrassment of riches independent country music fans enjoy these days amid countless options of where and who they can get their country fix from beyond corporate radio, you can make the mistake of overlooking Midwest-based country singer and performer David Quinn. His first record Wanderin’ Fool from 2019 definitely had some ears perked with it’s classic country throwback sound indicative of 50’s gold, from the style and instrumentation, to the recording approach.

Now David Quinn is back, and modernizing his sound a bit—at least, modernizing it to the 60’s and 70’s. With the new record Letting Go, he’s saying, “Okay, I mastered some of the earliest versions of country with my first record, now let me tackle the Outlaw era” as he righteously tattoos songs to the wall with seductive half time grooves, towering steel guitar and Telecaster takes, and everything else that made Vietnam-era country music cool both then and now.

Taking Quinn’s vision and running with it were players Mike Stankiewicz, and Micah Hulscher who is best known as the keyboard player for Margo Price, who also also rope-and-doped fellow Pricetag band members Dillon Napier (drums) and Jamie Davis (guitar) into the session, and then they brought in some top notch ringers in “Smokin'” Brett Resnick known for laying down steel licks for Kelsey Waldon and now Kacey Musgraves, and the immortal Laur Joamets of Sturgill Simpson and now Drivin’ & Cryin’ fame.

Consider the lineup assembled to track David Quinn’s Letting Go as a true all-star team of east Nashville musician talent. But where so many of the records emanating from this particular region seem to regularly fall short of expectations for a myriad of reasons, this one delivers that sort of sweaty, gritty, hard country sound that you crave with just the right amount of rock ‘n’ roll to not go over the line.

Too often east Nashville records get weighted down with monotone production meant to sound “vintage,” or artists eschewing their touring bands for what are supposed to be great studio performers who often fail to understand the vibe the music yearns for. Though not considered a major part of the east Nashville scene, David Quinn may have put out a record that is one of the best examples of it, at least in regards to sound, and by using the players that help define it.

Just a great listening record, David Quinn’s songwriting smartly creates the ideal canvas for these players and music as well, while presenting fetching hooks and relatable lyrics and themes. But perhaps the songwriting is also where Quinn shows some room for improvement. Though Letting Go never hits a wrong note, it never really dives beneath the surface either. A few songs speaking to something deeper would have added a little more gravity to the album. Everything is enjoyable on Letting Go, but writing can be where you leave your most lasting impact.

But man, when the guitar solo kicks in on “Ride On,” or that two-tone Outlaw base line starts off “100 Miles” and “Midnightin’ Woman,” you know you’ve wound up in the right place. These songs about letting loose and leaving trouble behind fit the appeal of a true country music fan just about perfectly.

1 3/4 Guns Up (8/10)

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