American singer-songwriter Melissa Sullivan is readying for the release of her debut disc Late Last Night. It’s set to drop on June 26th. But first, for those not yet familiar with the artist in question, a bit o’ background.
Melissa Sullivan was an “Air Force daughter” who relocated from Wichita Falls, Texas, to Naha, Okinawa, Japan as a child. Now based in Los Angeles, California, she attended the California Institute of the Arts as well as the Actors Studio. She scored parts in “E.R.”, “Hawthorne”, and “Shameless.” According to online sources, she garnered the Los Angeles Ticket Holders Best Supporting Actress award for her role of Stella in the live stage performance in Tennessee Williams’ play A Streetcar Named Desire at the popular Odyssey Theater’s Mainstage.
Melissa Sullivan’s signature sound is a mix of multiple music genres. It includes blues, folk, jazz, and pop music.
Late Last Night
This 10-track CD is a nigh hypnotic hybrid of blues, folk, jazz, and pop. It was recorded at the Sir Tiger Studios in Culver City, California. Here Sullivan focuses on her vocals backed by an assortment of other artists including:
Sylvain Carton (Bb and bass clarinet, baritone sax), Blair Sinta (drums), Chris Steele (drums, percussion), Noah Hoffeld (cello), Leah Paul (flute), Felipe Frago (cucia), and Raelon Bolton and Rafael Saliba (back-up vocals). It was co-produced by Sullivan, Will Golden, Edward Maxwell (upright bass), and Peter Adams (piano and arrangements).
Track by Track
The album opener is titled “It’s A Love.” This one is both sexy and melancholic. Co-composed with arranger Adams, it brings so mind images of a solo songstress singing in a smoky jazz club.
The second song is “He’s Bad.” It’s a boozy, bluesy bit truly worthy of attention. This saloon song is co-credited to Kratt and must be a crowd-pleaser when performed live.
Not to be confused with the 2008 Madonna song, “Miles Away” is another original number. Her vocals are a tad more ethereal here and the overall presentation is a little softer and yet it has an underlying musical sense of majesty.
“Borders/Fronteras” is a Brazilian-tinged duet with guitarist Lito de ka Isa. It’s a pretty enough piece but perhaps not yet needed at this point on the actual CD. Still, why quibble? It’s a nice intro to what Sullivan can do as a solo composer.
“Marcella” is a sweet tuneful team-up by Sullivan, Edwards, Kratt, Gough, and Glass. It’s initially unclear who Marcella is but it nonetheless remains a nice MOR track complete with a slight international tinge to it that’s even a bit retro.
“Adrian” is an early favorite of both fans and critics alike. Credited to Sullivan and Adams, this one also remains true to the artist’s fluid but solid signature sound.
Next, she covers Percy Mayfield’s “Lost Mind.” Somehow she puts enough of herself into it that she makes it her own. She keeps it familiar but makes it personal.
“Sirens” is another Sullivan-Adams co-credit. Again, regardless of the arrangements, this emotional audio offering is solid Sullivan.
Hoagy Carmichael wrote “Skylark” and made it a classic but Sullivan picks it up, dusts it off, and breathes new life into it.
The album endnote is “Borders.” It is a quiet closer and one final example of Sullivan’s capabilities. She certainly must understand showbiz because she surely leaves ‘em wanting more.
Overall . . .
Overall, this album presents evocative images with original songs about intimate observations and exceptional adaptations of tunes straight out of the Great American Songbook. The listener might imagine her singing in an old school club or on a lonely little beach with the tide coming in and the sun setting. It depends on the track.
Each cut has its own identity as she segues between lyrical lines and musical moods without straying too far from what unifies the work. Sullivan runs the gamut of being clever, reflective, seductive, and even somehow soothing. She’s that smart, sexy siren who sings in the bar down the street that you can’t help but fall for the moment she takes the stage. So check out Melissa Sullivan’s Late Last Night because it’s musical messages transcend all “Borders.”