Forest Sun

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Plenty Review

by Thom Jurek

Forest Sun -- his real name -- is a Bay Area songwriter who inhabits a musical world populated by the spirits of ghosts and peers and somehow in his songs manages to keep all those identities separate from his. Indeed, in these ten small gems, Sun offers the Muse the gift of his voice to write and sing though. Traces of rock & roll's past, present, and hopefully future mingle with progressive folk music, textured, moody pop, and a healthy sense of literary finesse. These elements wind together in these songs much as they do in the better work of Joseph Arthur, the groove/soul of Terry Callier, the British Isles progressive folk and rock styles of Paul Brady and early John Martyn, and even the occasional restless country-soul of Lefty Frizzell. The set opens with "Alchemy," a prayer so pure in its humility and so fierce in its lurid delivery it could only have been born from the bosom of rock. Sun's electric and acoustic guitars meet Daniel Schacht's elliptical bassline in a dance of yearning. As if to underline the importance of words like: "Love will lay down like a lion at our feet/Your eyes tell the story/That your words can't hide." Dan Foltz's rumbling drums meet the florid percussive interludes of Sun's own congas that accent the end of each line. Another standout is "Red Umbrella," which holds the Celtic soul-brother sung poetics of Van Morrison to the flame of slippery blues and a Caribbean shuffle. It's an easy, deep soul love song (or lust song) that for once puts the low-belly beat inside the body of the tune's lyric concerns. In fact, if it wasn't for Sun's sensual vocal delivery and subtle groove sensibility that allows Matt Henry Cunitz's B3 and Alex Budman's saxophones to waft their way through the middle of the cut, heating up the mix all around the singer, it would just be another folk love song instead of a languid, dripping seduction number. This cat has what it takes to make a mark, if only in a limited way like Dave Carter and Tracey Grammer or perhaps, if he's lucky, a writer like Chris Smither. Sun's music is timeless, which is both its greatest asset and its greatest drawback. Plenty is as fine a singer/songwriter record as is out there. Check it out for yourself:

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