Sunny War – Anarchist Gospel (New West) (Album Review)

I’d like to tell you that Sunny War is a new artist that you should take notice of, but the truth is, Anarchist Gospel is Sunny’s fourth album, so shame on me for not being onto Sunny sooner.

Sunny WarFor those, like me, who may be unfamiliar with Sunny War…real name, Sydney Lyndella Ward, born in Nashville to a single mother, live around the US including Detroit and then California,  Sunny starting playing music at 13, went through a rough patch (drugs, alcohol, poverty) and finally released her debut album in 2014.

Newly signed to New West Records, just the fact that I’m aware of Sunny is a testament to what a decent record label can do for an artist.

I don’t know about you, but when I first hear a new singer/songwriter it’s the voice that needs to connect first, and that’s exactly what happened when listened to Love’s Death Bed, the first track on Anarchist Gospel. It’s a voice that sounds familiar (think Joan Armatrading mixed with Roberta Flack and Mavis Staples) and at the same time unique.

Sunny’s time playing in a punk band (Anus Kings) may not be immediately apparent, but give a listen to her song I Got No Fight, a song about resignation but not surrender.

And it looks that now that Sunny has relocated back to Nashville, she’s made a good many friends. Appearing on the album are folks like Jim Jones (My Morning Jacket), David Rawlings, Allison Russell and Chris Pierce.

The album was produced by Andrija Tokic (Hurray For The Riff Raff/Alabama Shakes) so there’s plenty of cred in the credits here.

But all that means nothing without the songs and every one of Anarchist Gospel’s 14 tracks is poised to touch the listen in one way or another.

This is an album infused by depression, Covid and a traumatic breakup, but it’s anything but a downer. There’s plenty of hope in tunes like Shelter And Storm and New Day.

And, if that’s not enough, there’s a surprising and wonderful cover of a Ween song…Baby Bitch from Chocolate & Cheese!

So now that I’ve discovered Sunny War and her fourth album, I’ve already begun digging back into her catalogue and so far, I haven’t been disappointed. Do yourself a favour and discover Sunny War, if you haven’t already.

Marty Duda