“I’d give up ice cream just for you / I’d sell my bags and give away all my shoes.” The lyric, excerpted from “The Ice Cream Song”, speaks of the means to which someone truly dedicated will go for love. Throughout the course of Twenty Sixty Four, R&B singer/songwriter/pianist Avery*Sunshine makes it her mission to highlight the power of love. Following up her Shanachie debut, 2014’s The SunRoom, she partners once more with Dana “BigDane” Johnson, to whom she is now married. Interestingly, her marriage and newfound love play key roles throughout Twenty Sixty Four. It is clear that Sunshine has a joy about her, showcasing the utmost exuberance and optimism about present and future life and love.
Soulful full-length opener “Come Do Nothing” ranks among the crème de la crème of Twenty Sixty Four. The theme of the promo single is familiar: it finds Sunshine desiring the company of an ex she’s not over. Songs about rekindling relationships come and go — some more memorable than others — but she masterfully captures the sentiment on “Come Do Nothing”. Perhaps the pot of gumbo she prepares doesn’t specifically apply to all the hopeless romantics of the world, but gumbo is interchangeable with other means of attempting to win an ex back. In addition to the songwriting and the “gumbo” skit, the Good Times Brass Bands adds punch with horns.
Sunshine remains compelling on the jazz-soul follow-up, “I Just Don’t Know”, which brings in a string quartet, in addition to horns and a rhythm section. Thematically, the power of love anchors the record: “Every time I break up with you / I find myself back in love / so in love with you.” Essentially, Avery*Sunshine “can’t quit him” — he’s infectious and gives her exactly what she needs and wants. Keeping in step with love, she relies on her boo to a make everything alright on “Kiss and Make It Better”. Playing devil’s advocate, the song is an oversimplification of all the problems in the world. Perhaps that’s a legitimate argument, but it’s tough to avoid being enveloped by the groovy, soulful vibes, and more importantly, the truism that “love conquers all”. “Kiss and Make It Better”, like preceding tracks, continues Avery*Sunshine’s testament of love’s transcendence.
Prudence is the modus operandi on “Jump”, a smooth and empowering anthem of perseverance and faith. The wheel isn’t reinvented, but this thoughtful number fits the natural progression of Twenty Sixty Four. “Used Car” gives Sunshine a funky throwback gem. Feisty from the get-go, she prefers a good, certified used car over a new one. The songwriting oozes with the charm of vintage soul, sporting tongue-in-cheek lyrics. While she sings about automobiles, it seems she has a bigger picture in mind. Given the predominance of love and relationships throughout the album, it’s not far-fetched to think that she’s speaking about a new relationship with someone who’s as ‘used’ as is she, having previously been a participant through various relationships with both good and bad moments.
Following multiple interludes and satisfying songs, title track “Twenty Sixty Four” arrives in all its glory. Essentially, the titular date references the time at which Sunshine will no longer be able to live happily married to her new husband. While the number is random, the sentiment isn’t. Rather, the piece is about everlasting love, and like the interlude that precedes, “Come Do Nothing,” Sunshine is invested and infatuated in her new marriage. The production work, intact with lush, romantic sounds, conveys this sentiment flawlessly. Here, as with most of the songs, she conveys that she’s in no rush for the record to end.
Twenty Sixty Four concludes similarly to The SunRoom, with two spiritual songs. On penultimate original “Prayer Room”, Avery*Sunshine speaks to the power of prayer and faith. She follows up with “Sweet Hour of Prayer (Postlude)”, a well-known hymn that Sunshine doesn’t keep straight to form. Instead, she offers variations and truly makes it her own.
All in all, Twenty Sixty Four is a well-rounded and pleasant R&B album that acts as a welcome addition to her discography. A force to be reckoned with, she showcases her emotions through nuanced vocal performances, selling her artistry with the utmost consistency. As such, Twenty Sixty Four may not expand R&B, but it exemplifies just how alive and well the genre still is.