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REVIEW: Avery*Sunshine (Self-Titled)

06/05/2010

Combining beautifully soulful melodies, with a touch of jazz and more than a little earthy gospel, Atlanta songstress Avery*Sunshine sounds like a veteran musician with several albums worth of material under her belt. So, it may come as a surprise to some that this is, in fact, her debut album.

Not that she is a stranger to the music business, on the contrary, she is a choral director of 2 choirs, she lent her voice to the movie soundtrack for ‘The Fighting Temptations’ and she worked on the touring production of ‘Dream Girls’. She can count musical legends such as Chaka Khan and Roy Ayers (check out the ‘Everybody Loves’ interlude) amongst her fans, and has worked at length with producer Dana Johnson who co-wrote and co-produced many tracks on India.Arie’s Voyage To India.

The album opens with the wonderful ‘All In My Head’ with Ms Sunshine pointing out that we can all be our own worst enemy at times. The track deals with insecurity, doubt and confusion but rather than sounding depressing or melancholy, she puts a bright, almost upbeat spin on the subject matter. ‘Today’ is a track that everyone will be able to relate too, opening with the line “Today, nothin seems to be going my way. Trying to keep my sanity is getting the best of me”. As she reels off a list of problems including a baby-father acting up, car troubles and a nightmare boss, you begin to get the impression that this album is on a bit of a ‘downer’, yet her smooth, jazzy vocals, and accomplished rhodes-playing make it a compelling listen.

Ugly Part Of Me

Album standout, the Jill Scott-esque ‘Ugly Part Of Me’, is a sincere apology to her lover for letting that ‘ugly part’ of her take over. This is real soul music right here, thoughtful, brutally honest, heartfelt … all the ingredients are there for an outstanding track, and it does not dissapoint. The song not only highlights Avery’s writing and vocals, but also her skill as an arranger and composer. Also the musicians need credit here (as they do on the whole album) for creating some truly beautiful backdrops which allow Ms Sunshine to really shine.

Need You Now

I Got Sunshine

On ‘Need You Now’ and ‘Blessin’ Me’ the singer gives current soul favourite Ledisi a run for her money, and ‘I Got Sunshine’ is a welcome injection of up-beat, feel good optimism on an album that deals mainly with the darker elements of love and life. The remainder of the album follows a similar path, dealing with highs and lows in a refreshingly honest and open way. This is definitely one of those albums best listened to in it’s entirity to appreciate just how fantastic it really is. All those involved should be commended, particularly Avery herself and Dome Records who have given her the platform she deserves. Now, all everyone needs to do is go out and support the project when it is released on May 10th (UK).

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