Music is one of the most versatile tools human beings have for connection. Songs of the past tell stories to keep the future informed of history. Songs of heartbreak give listeners a glimmer of hope that we aren’t alone during those times when we feel most vulnerable. Music has the power to inspire its audience to overcome obstacles, to rise above fears, or to quiet life’s woes and find peace.
Kory Quinn’s new album, Live at The OK, can be held responsible for all of this and more. Through a beautiful display of musical juxtaposition mastered only with a guitar and a voice, listeners can expect to dance, to learn about the culture of the 2010s, to introspectively look at personal experiences in the “War On Love,” and to laugh with Quinn as he authentically shares his stories with us.
Quinn’s powerful voice paired with the wisdom packed into his lyrics make this album sound almost like old, western gospel. He poetically serenades us about the struggle many of us face today from classism and feeling unheard on a song like “In The Shadow of The Tower of Babel”:
“There’s no way we can shake off these chains in this world held onto by reigns,” he sings. “There’s no race that can ever be run in which the winner hasn’t already won.”
Yet he encourages us to keep our focus on living for our dreams, delivered in a heartfelt and authentic way on “Livin' & Dyin' (to Dream)”:
“Well the night comes a risin’, there is the reason for livin’ and dyin’, the reason to dream / Well in the moonlight shinin’, there is the reason for livin’ and dyin’, there’s a reason to dream.”
Quinn’s first album, Waitin’ For A Train, was released in 2011, and he’s since shared three subsequent albums. No album has shied away from displaying his talent in songwriting and skilled stringed instrument playing. Listeners can expect to find some familiar songs on this new live record mixed with some unrecorded material. What makes this album particularly unique, however, is his solo stage presence. Other than the audience and Bart Budwig, who recorded, mixed and mastered the album, Quinn performs the songs with only himself and his guitar. Recorded at the OK Theatre in Enterprise, which is the oldest continuously operating theater in Oregon and one of the oldest in the country, perhaps this is why the album delivers the passion of an old soul.
The current social environment has certainly impacted Quinn’s writing as well. "There's so much turmoil, insecurity and fear that is driving the world,” he explains. “Writing, singing and playing songs is just my way of coping with all the inequity, strife and division that stands between today and tomorrow."