Folk phenomenon Sunny War is an artist that fervently puts her all into her music. Her songs glide across your ears with a free-flowing radiance that sucks listeners in. Her new album Simple Syrup is aptly titled as it has that same light sweetness. Her innovative 11-track release touches on themes that range from relationships to politics, and those topics are relayed with so much emotive honesty.
Sunny War’s raw, swampy tune “Like Nina” beautifully showcases the unfair expectations placed on famous black women in American art. With intricate guitar riffs and deep, stirring vocals the track takes you on an intoxicating journey through the struggles so many women of color face. Refusing to be put in a box, she soulfully sings of the false perceptions she fights against.
Then there is the delicately, personal track “Kiss A Loser”. Through her gentle guitars, soft drums and silky vocals she intimately shares accounts of her drunken self in relationships. Singing, “bless your heart you think I’m playing games right now, bless your heart you think I’m being tame now,” you can feel her seductive sass shine through in this laid-back candid offering.
The moving release “Deployed and Destroyed” is a heart-wrenching narration of a good friend of hers from the streets. A veteran and intense PTSD sufferer, she sorrowfully sings of his descent into mental illness. Homeless and unable to get the proper care he needs, she watched him slowly fall apart and that has not been easy to see. She tells his story not just for him, but for all the veterans out there that have been tossed aside.
Closing things out with “Big Baby”, this bluesy track gleams with Sunny’s raspy tone and gritty acoustic guitar. Reminiscent of classic songs like “Summertime”, this fiery tune’s gripping poignancy tugs at your soul and never let’s go. With every stunning note, you can feel a piercing pain oozing out.
Not only does Sunny War show so much compassion within her art, but also in her actual life. She founded the Los Angeles chapter of the nonprofit Food Not Bombs and gathered volunteers to distribute vegan food to the homeless. The singer has also marched in BLM protests. This pandemic has really fueled her to continue to create powerful music bursting with aching passion.
Words: Chloe Robinson
Catch Sunny War live this summer at the Blue Ox Music Festival in Wisconsin. And if you’re looking for a vaccination vacation, head on over to France for the Cognac Blues Passion Festival where Sunny War will be performing.