By Iliana Ramirez
Artist: Sunny War
Album: With the Sun
Release Date: February 2nd, 2018
Label: Hen House Studios
Ten years ago, singer-songwriter Sunny War was homeless and busking as a street performer in the tourist-filled area of Venice Beach. It was during this time that War became apart of the folk-punk scene and met others who were interested in blues and traveling the world. This complex time in War’s life is a large influence on her latest release, With the Sun. On this album, War mixes folk and punk with elements of blues and even a little bit of country. This mixing of genres is what makes With the Sun such a diverse and successful album.
The most prominent elements of this album are War’s voice and her unique style of guitar playing. War uses a style known as fingerpicking to make the distinctive sounds on her guitar. This adds to the emotional and raw qualities that the album conveys.This album feels as if War is allowing listeners to take a look into her journal, sharing so many emotional aspects of her life. With many of the tracks on the album consisting of War’s voice and her acoustic guitar, listeners are given more of an opportunity to focus on the vocals and songwriting. The raw qualities of the album can be seen in the second track, “Gotta Live it”, where War focuses on social injustices in our society.
War chooses to lay everything out, singing about subjects such as alcoholism and heartbreak. “If it Wasn’t Broken” is one of the first songs on the album to reach these sensitive subjects. The fourth track, “With the Sun” consists of a lighter and much different pace than the rest of the album. This song is one which utilizes the sounds of blues the most.
A personal favorite of mine, “Violent”, continues the subject of relationships. This song focusses on abusive relationships. The acoustic guitar in combination with the electric guitar can be seen as a metaphor for the two people in the relationship. The two guitar styles go back and forth with one another in an intense way, just as two would do in a failing relationship. The songwriting on this song is very poetic as War rhymes several words. War sings,“You need to go sit in time out, until you find out what makes our love go sour, it wont stop here in an hour.”
The last track on the song “Come Back” is an almost fully instrumental song. With War choosing to have few vocals attached to the song, she allows listeners to sit with and fully soak the previous songs on the album. The electric guitar riffs in this last track dance around so intricately around War’s deep vocals. In addition to this, the violin which fills the last 30 seconds of the record leads to a great conclusion for listeners.
Until I came across Sunny War, I had never heard a mixing of such diverse genres. Despite the warm title of the album, listeners will be surprised to find that a majority of this album comes from a more melancholic standpoint. War’s open, honest lyrics, deep vocals, and unique guitar style are what keep listeners drawn into this album. From starting out as a street performer to now having several studio albums under her belt, Sunny War is the definition of a self made artist.