The first album by San Francisco-based singer/songwriter Sonya Hunter starts with an interesting revision of the traditional "Once I Had a Sweetheart," set to a plodding military-style snare drum beat and featuring a noisy guitar solo by Green on Red's Chuck Prophet, both suggesting that the lost loved one has been killed in a war. From that fairly traditional folk opening, however, Hunter moves into a folk-influenced version of alternative rock, with guest spots by such Bay Area alt-rock luminaries as Prophet's bandmate Chris Cavacas, American Music Club guitarist Vudi, and Wire Train frontman Jeffrey Trott. However, the songs are built around Hunter's acoustic guitar and her occasionally quirky vocal phrasing, and her novelistic eye for detail informs the lyrics. There are many terrific songs here, from the Throwing Muses-like "Fault Line" to the melodically rich "View From a Sidewalk," the two highlights are "Wedding" and "Paint." "Wedding" is a rueful RSVP to an ex-boyfriend, with Hunter sardonically apologizing in advance for her behavior if she were to attend his nuptials. In contrast, the gloriously wide-eyed "Paint" is a poetic dream of adding color to a drab urban landscape, set to the album's loveliest melody. Had she only written "Paint," Sonya Hunter would be a talent to watch, but Favorite Short Stories is a diverse and wholly brilliant debut from a singular talent.
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AllMusic Review by Stewart Mason