Avery Sunshine – Four Songs and a Bootleg (2022) (Review)

Avery Sunshine – Four Songs and a Bootleg (2022) (Review)

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Avery Sunshine – Four Songs and a Bootleg

It’s stating the obvious to say that Avery * Sunshine is a relationship singer, but I’m not trying to uncover any deep mystery. On Four songs and a bootleg, her latest album, the relationships she has with the love of her life, her God, with the constant struggle to stay motivated, and with her adopted hometown of Atlanta – to name a few. – serve as connective tissue that binds what might have been a rambling scrapbook together.

In a sense, Four songs and a bootleg is made up of two projects: the “first” consists of studio recordings of four new songs, while the “second” finds Sunshine performing live in Atlanta. Live tracks allow those who have never attended an Avery*Sunshine performance to experience what makes this artist one of indie soul’s most popular performers – stellar vocals that are deeply influenced by his church background in both his hometown of Chester, Pennsylvania and in Atlanta and his energetic and engaging stage presence.

Bringing out that personality on a live recording can be difficult, but Sunshine makes a connection with the crowd that can be heard in her ad libs on songs like “Come Do Nothing” or the stories she tells by introducing tracks like as “Pining”, a track from his 2010 self-titled debut album.

Sunshine performs to a “hometown” crowd that includes friends from church, her time at Spelman College (where she did her undergrad), and those she’s met over her 30 years of stay at the ATL. So the show has a “we’re home, kick off your heels and relax” kind of vibe, where it can tell a story about husband and guitarist Dana Johnson “pining” for some Popeye spicy chicken after weeks of bread-and-cheese-drinking-wine in Europe, then takes his audience to church with three songs of praise and worship that end the album.

Avery has the chops to end the record with his soulful performance of gospel standards such as “Blessing Me”, “Safe In His Arms” and “(I Want to) Praise Him”. Her live work showcases her work as an excellent lyrical storyteller. This comes out best on “Lucky,” which is also one of the songs she performed live.

“Lucky” works on the premise that when two people come together to form a relationship and become one entity, they always have two separate stories. Both people have stories that can be, shall we say, a little dramatic. If you come out of something bad — or maybe a little interesting — and end up in a good place, you’re probably going to be a little thankful. You might find yourself singing your new bae’s praises to the highest heavens, and it can be extremely easy to forget that you’re not exactly minced liver.

Avery*Sunshine’s range as a vocalist comes through on the tender track “Boomerang.” Vocally, Avery is a dynamo, as anyone who listens to him tear up those gospel numbers can attest. “Boomerang” finds Avery adopting a soft, conversational tone that finds her singing along to an arrangement that includes flourishes of a muted Harmon trumpet and Johnson’s acoustic guitar and finds her hoping for the return of a friend or family member she might have taken for granted. . “Four Songs & a Bootleg” is a project that showcases all the virtues of Avery*Sunshine. Recommended.

By Howard Dukes

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