A lushly melancholic hymn to resignation, Jim Sullivan’s ‘Highways’ holds a magnetic sway over the listener before and without their inevitable initiation into the artist’s enigmatic story.
Instantly evocative of some sun-bleached, Out West backwater of the late-sixties, it is a shored-up drifter’s self-justification for inertia set to an all-too brief, mutedly anthemic folky-soul.
The lyrics, heartbreaking in their blind yet somehow knowingly doomed optimism, benefit greatly from not only Sullivan’s warm and weary timber but the full palette of 60s Americana stalwarts the Wrecking Crew. Without label backing, these industry behemoths were apparently afforded as a gift by a friend of the singer, and lend their immeasurable talents, from jangling guitars and funky drums to paired-back strings and horns, to the whole of his U.F.O. album.
Originally released in 1969, the long player followed a similar vein in restrained psychedelia and grounded reflection but brought no more than localised live acclaim. Six years later, Sullivan mysteriously disappeared en route from his home in LA to a hopeful career boost in Nashville.
U.F.O. vanished too, resurfacing in 2010 courtesy of obscure-enthusiast indie label Light In the Attic. And with it the ghost of its creator.