Field Medic is the alter-ego/stage name of American singer-songwriter Kevin Patrick Sullivan, a low key folk and country musician with a lot on his mind. Fade Into the Dawn is his latest release and it is an album that feels increasingly personal and intimate as Sullivan deals with his demons by laying them bare to the world.
After a decade playing shows around the country it’s safe to say that Sullivan has seen most things now and this is something that is echoed almost immediately in Fade Into the Dawn with his opening song Used 2 be a Romantic which opens with the line ‘I need a cigarette, those fuckers talked all over my whole set’. This brief cathartic rant is something that almost every musician can relate to and so can practically every fan. Not many people can say that they have been to a shown where nobody talked over their favourite artist, it is an unfortunate side effect of music. But this opening gambit goes on to shape the sentiments for the rest of the album as the person behind Field Medic goes on to deal with self esteem issues, alcohol abuse and more. It sounds like this could be a hard album to listen to but it’s far from it.
Sullivan keeps his act minimal. Soft, almost hazy guitar tunes play over almost invisible drum beats and coincide with his soft and sombre vocals. His careful work is never a beat out of place and yet it feels as fresh and unrehearsed as if it were him practising these songs in his own front room. This only goes further to serve the intimate nature of his work as it feels as though he is not just opening up his heart but his home. There is a sense of familiarity hidden within his work as well that is like catching something out the corner of your eye. You might hear something akin to Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young at one moment and The Kinks another, but you look again and they are gone. It comes across almost like a sense of déjà vu, subtle nods that you hear time and again but struggle to identify when or where you heard it before.
For a man with a guitar who barely uses any form of backing Field Medic is a phenomenally powerful act not just musically, or with Sullivan’s whisky burnt voice but also with his pained and personal lyrics. It’s not an uplifting album but it’s also not disheartening either. There is something undefinable about Fade Into the Dawn that leaves you feeling warmer but not quite sure why.
More info at: http://www.fieldmedic.net/
Review by Joe Knipe