Sonny & The Sunsets – “Pretend You Love Me” by Polyvinyl Records
So with the beginning of Summer, Los Angeles is again basking in the season of surf, sun, skin and swim suits. A perfect companion to any list of Summer necessities are the songs. Que Sonny and the Sunsets.
Though LA can’t claim Sonny Smith as one of their own, there’s a sunny new album by the San Francisco area resident and his intentionally “country” ensemble that includes Ryan Browne, Tahlia Harbour, and Kelley Stoltz. Longtime Companion was just released Tuesday and it sees bandleader Smith heading down a country road on the new album.
Not that the folky writer is short on material, he produced a museum project in where he asked artists to create album art for 100 records of which he recorded the A and B sides to each record in 2010, but perhaps due to a recent failed relationship, he took to a California country form for this, his eighth full-length album and third with the Sunsets. This one is packed with easy flowing, chill, folky-twang and hints of cosmic country. The songs roll along a winding, meandering musical road with side trips influenced by Bakersfield, Johnny Cash, Buck Owens, The Beach Boys and the Grateful Dead. There’s even enough room to allow some oddball traces like flute and something that sounds like a pan flute. Groovy for sure, but perfectly placed.
Smith’s lyrics cover heartbreak themes and a ponder the world with humorous self deprecation and dark wit. “Seems a cruelty and sometimes love, is what the world’s made of. Only time will tell, if we stick together,” is how Smith begins “Sea of Darkness”. “Down in the sea of darkness dear, I’ve been drifting for 1000 years. Only time will tell, if we stick together.” Still he stays optimistic in the song as he does throughout the album, “throw me a line and pull me in so the sea of darkness don’t win again.”
“Pretend You Love Me” ambles along with the help of a moving bass-line, some sincere pedal steel guitar and swirling flute. The harmonies on the track also contribute to a fully developed picture that’ll bounce around in one’s head for days, reminding them of a sunset drive along their favorite coastal road. “I don’t know what I’m doing anymore… If you see me wonder way out there, pretend you love me. Pretend you care,” Smith yearningly sings.
Perhaps due to the state of Smith’s mind, he, at times, leaves his tales a bit open-ended but that adds to the whimsical nature of his personality which is stamped all over the record. Still with other strong tracks like “I Was Born” and “Year of the Cock,” Longtime Companion grows on you like an artistic friend that’s traveled a weary road and just wants to warm himself up with you in front of a cozy bonfire.
For more information on Sonny & The Sunsets visit: http://www.sonnysmith.com