By Eben Gutteridge
‘Never Let You Down’, the latest single from former DH1 artist Dan Quinn – and his last of 2020 – is here, and it’s a refreshing and very welcome spot of cheer in an otherwise bleak landscape. After the more subdued “sad-boi ballad” (Quinn’s own description) ‘Heart of Mine’, ‘Never Let You Down’ offers something more upbeat and an overwhelming message of hope. With an accompanying, relatively minimalist music video, this is less produced than Quinn’s earlier tracks and provides a pleasant and authentic insight into the young artist.
The first impression of the track is that it’s simple – but this is by no means a bad thing. The chords, the lyrics, the tune: it’s a classic three-minute pop song. The instrumentation is stripped back, we’re essentially hearing Quinn’s vocals and a simple, chord-based accompaniment. It’s a recipe for vulnerability, and despite the uplifting lyrics Quinn feels exposed here, but in a good way. It’s unposed and stripped back. The opening lines refer to being “a hot mess” and “depressed”; we’re really seeing an admission of vulnerability wrapped up in a hopeful promise to be better. The lyrics are likely the weakest part (of a very good song), but this actually adds to the charm. There is sometimes a slight awkwardness, but the authentic optimism, and more importantly, a sense of individuality are there – a trait that can be hard to find in younger artists.
The video is simple too and, importantly, fun. It’s a classic concept – Quinn dances alone with his headphones on in an empty warehouse. There are ‘I Want to Break Free’ vibes. Again, it’s unabashed, we watch Quinn literally dance like no-one is watching, he lip-syncs in the mirror, dances with a broom, and at one point operates a forklift. It reveals a fun side to Quinn which is nice to see. After all, in the current situation who isn’t in the need of a good solo jam in a warehouse?
The piece is overwhelmingly positive. The lyrics continue the theme of Quinn’s earlier work of promising not to let people down, with this sentiment taking a principal role here. Quinn promises to be better, and it’s sincere. Having stated that this song is for people ‘who show out’, we can tell that this is a track made with love, and it shows. It’s fiercely positive, and it’s what we need at the moment. No less authentic than the likes of ‘Heart of Mine’ or ‘Garden’ it’s the first ‘feel good’ song from Quinn in a while. And that’s the best description I could give it – that it feels good. It’s simple, yes, but it’s happy. We never see who Quinn’s singing to, and likewise we may not be able to see those that we ‘show out’ for in person. We may not be able to do what we love – one man dancing through a warehouse may be the only viable kind of music video we can shoot for a while. But Quinn’s message is clear: we can still show out for each other and for ourselves. And we can always dance alone to a fun and fresh song like this one – just in time for Christmas.
Image: Alasdair Harris.