Critical Voices: Quinn XCII, <i>From Michigan, With Love</i>

Critical Voices: Quinn XCII, From Michigan, With Love

By:
02/27/2019

Quinn XCII’s sophomore album, From Michigan, With Love, is so raw, so real, and so deeply relatable. The album boasts a wide range of music, from upbeat bops like “Werewolf” to chiller, happy-go-lucky songs like “Right Where You Should Be” to downright sappy love songs like “U & US.” Quinn bravely incorporates his feelings on love, loneliness, and home into his music. The album, released fittingly at midnight on Valentine’s Day, is an epic compilation of bold and mellow music that pays homage to his home state of Michigan.

Listening to From Michigan, With Love, it’s hard not to start applying the songs to your own personal reality. For any big life moment, there is a Quinn XCII song that could be played in the background. “Tough” represents those difficult moments when you feel like the whole world is against you. “Right Where You Should Be” is the definition of a first, epic romance.

The authenticity of Quinn’s music can be traced to the fact that he writes, sings, and produces all of his own songs. He is, as such, embedded into his music on a deeply personal level. From Michigan, With Love features several collaborations that further enhance the sound and message of his music.

The third single off the album, “Tough,” features Noah Kahn, a folk-inspired pop singer. On the surface, the song seems to be about the pressure for men to maintain a hyper-masculine appearance. However, upon further listens, it transforms into a deeper message about bullying and how anyone, no matter what they look like, can be subjected to intimidation. In the song, he speaks directly to the fictional bully, with lyrics like, “And I’m sure you’d win in an altercation / But you’re still insecure to me.” “Tough” is deceivingly cheerful with its pop-infused background beats, but the lyrics present a beautiful, sensitive piece that gives listeners the confidence and strength they need to be true to themselves and their feelings.

“Life Must Go On” features vocals from artist Jon Bellion, who also helped produce the track. Bellion’s signature beats are noticeable in this song—the bridge, for example, incorporates a background echo, which is especially reminiscent of Bellion’s style. In this sense, “Life Must Go On” is very similar to Bellion’s single, “Guillotine,” with an upbeat chorus and eclectic backing vocals.

Quinn’s collaborations are essential to the identity of From Michigan, With Love. The album is partially about Quinn sharing his home (and his struggles) with the rest of the world, and the collabs are just one medium through which Quinn is able to communicate his love for Michigan with others.

On the tracks that he does not collaborate with other artists, Quinn takes a hard look at his own life. He bravely shares his struggles with anxiety in many of his songs. Things as raw as anxiety and mental health must be very hard for Quinn to share with his millions of fans, so he uses attachment to his home as a metaphor for his struggles. For instance, in “Sad Still,” he sings, “We don’t wanna feel this bad / Rather sweep it under the mat / We take this red pill, green pill, black pill / I know deep down, we’re sad still.” Quinn calls out all the people who mask their pain with medication and gives an uncut look into his own sadness.

Between the collaborations and introspective looks into Quinn’s own life, From Michigan, With Love compels listeners to remember the communities that raised and uplifted them, while on their quests for a life beyond their hometowns. More importantly, perhaps, the album’s raw look at mental health helps to destigmatize anxiety and other mental illnesses. This, in turn, hopefully inspires fans to go forth into the world knowing that they are not alone.

In the music video for “Life Must Go On,” Quinn travels around America visiting his fans and giving them a preview of his album. Throughout these visits, he spends time getting to know fans. After listening to Quinn’s new album, many of the fans open up to Quinn and relate to his struggles with anxiety. From Michigan, With Love encourages us not to lose our connection to our roots in the everyday chaos of life and to take time to work on our own inner struggles.

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Anna Pogrebivsky


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