[12 August 2014]
“See you when I get there.” Sigh, such simple words exhibit a great amount of depth and meaningfulness; there is perceptible warmth. In the context of R&B artist Avery Sunshine’s album, The SunRoom, the same sentiment issued by the featured lyric penetrates throughout the album. The SunRoom feels truly authentic and friendly, keeping classic soul sensibilities alive and well. In the hands of Sunshine and her musical partner Dana “BigDane” Johnson, the end product is nothing short of exceptional.
“Won’t You Try” kicks off The SunRoom sunnily, with a hint of Memphis soul in the style of Al Green. Sunshine begins her vocal performance poised, never ceding control. By the close of the funky opener, Sunshine lets loose, delivering more vocal grit and nuance. Funk is supplanted by romantic balladry on “Call My Name”. While the tempo is slackened, the energy and investment is by no means compromised. Sunshine’s remarkable voice definitely dominates in convincing fashion.
Interludes don’t often scream importance or relevance within the context of an album, but “SYWIGT” is definitely interesting and fits the vibe. It precedes another high-flying number, “One Foot Ahead”, where the funk returns once more. “One Foot Ahead” delivers a message of resolve – “walking by faith, and not by sight”. If “One Foot Ahead” foreshadowed a spiritual route, the spiritually driven “Meditation #1 (Conversation with God)” confirms it. Lush, inviting, and amiable, “Meditation #1” continues the consistency and the hospitable nature of The SunRoom.
“Time To Shine” keeps things positive, never issuing doubt or dissension from the sunny script. The chorus vocals burst with confidence and determination to succeed: I’m not ashamed to say that / I’m so proud of me / I’m gonna shine, shine, shine!” Towards the end, the backing vocals reiterate the key word: “shine”. Things are more relaxed on “Nothing To Something”, where Sunshine sings amorously about him “turning my nothing into something”. Clever is the fact, “Nothing to Something” can interpreted romantically or spiritually; it straddles the line.
As good as “Time To Shine” and “Nothing To Something” are, “I Do Love You (You Ain’t Got To Lie)” one-ups them. Like the cream of the crop “Won’t You Try” or “One Foot Ahead”, the funk-factor truly elevates “I Do Love You” to stratospheric heights. Soul arguably is best exemplified by this cut, not solely in production alone, but also Sunshine’s gritty, electrifying vocals. Also worthy of note are Sunshine’s bluesy piano chops. Retaining balance, “Meditation #2 (Conversation with Him),” relaxes things. At only two-minutes, “Meditation #2” serves the role of an interlude – a break.
“Sweet Afternoon” continues the lush, beauty of the album, spreading its plushness at nearly six-and-half minutes. Even given its length, it’s difficult not to get lost into the truly ‘sweet’ cut, intact with jazz-oriented harmonies, backing vocals, and of course thoughtful nuances from Sunshine. Penultimate “See You When I Get There” exceeds the length of “Sweet Afternoon”, though by only a little. See You When I Get There” gets the edge, again incorporating the ‘f-word’ – FUNK. A hint of Clavinet (keyboards) is just what the doctor ordered.
‘Dr. Jesus’ is the physician on superb closer “Safe In His Arms”, an oft-covered gospel song written by Darius Brooks. Sunshine’s sensational interpretation incorporates only piano and voice. The vibe is spiritual and incredibly reverent.
Overall, The SunRoom is nothing short of a pleasant and soundly satisfying listen. Avery Sunshine hasn’t created an album with innovation in mind per se, but has definitely crafted an album that keeps soul and gospel alive and well. The energy and upbeat nature of The SunRoom is something so many of artists DON’T possess; it is refreshing to feel ‘welcomed’ into this warm, thoughtful effort.