Album Review: Andrew Sullivan – Lost Again
Andrew Sullivan is one of my favorite songwriters that I discovered in 2015, so I was really excited to finally get to his album. I’m not going to mince words here – if you like pop country music, you need to own this album. If you’re a regular reader of the site, you’ll recall an interview with Andrew a few months ago. But for the sake of fair evaluation, let me just take the album on its own merits; it’s really good!
“When I Found You” is an excellent opening track that gives the album its full country sound. There are elements of what you might call pop music on the track, but more than anything it feels like a commercial track. It’s a nice introduction to Sullivan’s overall flavor.
But then “Already Beautiful” lets you know that this is not an average country album; no this is something special. Just the phrasing and amiability comes through on every line of this song. It’s clearly a love song, but it’s delivered in a way that shows an obvious depth and wisdom. The song testifies of a love that transcends appearance and instant gratification. “I wish that you would only see girl those faults are only in your mind…” Wow. What a great sentiment to tell a lover and friend.
“Young Love” is a really cute track. I know – it’s weird to hear a guy call another guy’s song cute, but it’s about his wife so I mean really it’s cute. It reminds of something from Ben Rector (which is high praise!). I genuinely enjoy the sentiment of the song, too. Anyone who has been in love at a young(ish) age really can appreciate the infatuation conveyed by this song. Sullivan’s smooth and comfortable sound does not feel the least bit country; it’s a subtle joy that makes the song feel like the cool breeze of a spring morning.
A lot of the songs on this album are deceptively simple in their structure, borrowing from the classic traditions of popular music from a few different genres. But then there’s “To Be Your Drug,” a song that pulls from the deepest wells of music. There are blues chord progressions, an organ for sonic depth, and some of the best harmonies on the full album. It’s a song that shows the kind of sophistication in Sullivan’s songwriting that goes beyond being a “simple” pop singer. The song’s message is about desiring not just for his love to want him, but that his love would be satisfying for her – like a drug. It’s a metaphor we’ve heard before, but applied in this way is much more holistic and beautiful rather than misleading and narcissistic.
The title track “Lost Again” starts with a lovely mandolin that gives it just the snap that it needs to warm the hearts of the listeners. Then when the song continues with the album’s love-filled message, the subtle chord progressions and organ fills work to soothe the listener to the message. The song feels like it’s both a romantic story as well as a personal spiritual reflection. The honesty and transparency on this one is eminently rewarding.
“You’re the Best” shows influences from pop country from the 80s and 90s. It sounds like something Martina McBride or Reba McIntyre might have taken a few decades ago. “I think you’re the best; baby you’re the one for me.” It’s a straightforward love song with a big arena feel to it. The interplay of intimacy and major performance are endearing. It’s not an easy tension to accomplish well, so it’s laudable to hear how Sullivan pulls it off with such sincerity.
Now we have to talk about one of the most entertaining songs on the album, “Chickens in the Yard.” The strings at the beginning usher in Sullivan’s best lead vocals on the whole album. There’s a light, airy quality to the track that makes it particularly good. The first time I heard this song, I literally asked, “who is THIS?” The songwriting feels like it could have emerged any time between the 50s and today. That timeless quality – including the main theme of the song of family, love, and stability – is something that is sure to fill the listener’s heart with joy. If you only have time for one Andrew Sullivan song, make it this one.
All told, this album is full of uplifting songs. It’s not cheesy, though, instead playing on the desires of our hearts with genuine sentiments. There’s a real focus on things like joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, and definitely dedicated love. It’s one of the most loving, engaging albums I’ve heard in a long time. If you’re a fan of country-influenced pop music, you really need to listen to this album. If you’re in Texas (or close by) look him up; Andrew is always looking for new fans to host house shows and visit him on tour.