By Alex Ward
Some albums come along and stump you with what to write. Many records speak easily to reviewers who can write about them quickly. Sonny And The Sunset‘s Longtime Companion takes a couple of listens to really understand the true meaning behind it.
Sonny Smith hailing from San Francisco likes to be unique. Track one ‘I Was Born’ has a great upbeat feel similar to Arlo Gutherie and the lyrical style of Adam Green. I particularly like the organ ending to it. Track two ‘Dried Blood’ I think is one of the best songs on the album. The style is stupidly similar to The Beatles ‘Honey Don’t’ and Sonny even sings similar to Ringo Starr.
Personal issues such as divorces or break ups are usually subjects which artists try the most to avoid being public but can make great records. Sonny Smith feels otherwise even to the extent that Polyvinyl Records wrote: “It’s a break up Record. Love and Heartache. Every song was written and during and is about his break up with his girlfriend of ten years”. Track three ‘Children of the Beehive’ really expresses this pain with lyrics such as “my babe the divorcee”. Saying that, there is an on going message of this pain through the entire album. Track four ‘’Pretend To Love me’ has a Kinks-esque feel from the time Ray Davies wrote more county tracks and is another of the strongest songs on the album.
Smith impresses me, writing traditional country western songs in a unique style is something I haven’t seen a lot. Track 5 ‘Year of the Cock’ screams “I listen to Johnny Cash” with its ‘Folsom Prison Blues’ bass line. Even Track six ‘Rhinestone Sunset’, the only instrumental track on the record, has a great Hank Williams feel to it. Track seven ‘I See The Void’ is a great song, which to me sounds similar to John Lennon’s solo work.
But this great country writing is let down to much by the pain and continuing writing about break up. Track 8 ‘Sea of Darkness’ is similar to Sonny just begging on his knees to be back with his love. This however leads to one of my favourite songs on the record; ‘My Mind Messed Up’ has great melody between Smith and his band mates from The Fuckaroos. This record is brilliant as long as you really learn to understand it. Similar to a film ending, closing track ‘Longtime Companion’ sees Smith like the film star starting anew down a road or getting on a bus. The song’s Motown beats, similar to Smokey Robinson’s ‘Tracks of My Tears’, really finishes things off perfectly.