Sunny Crownover is the exciting new sultry vocalist who Duke Robillard has taken under his wing on this latest album: Introducing... Sunny and her Joy Boys. This 14 track cd is a diverse and impressive offering of the ‘American Songbook’ but don’t think for a moment – I can see you – that this is going to be a dusty, codgerly effort. Duke and his highly skilled players make the delivery passionate and relevant and are sure to win over anyone who gives this a listen. Expect to veer from slow smooching sway to locomotive guitar playing – all within a few moments, but it’s zall good. Sunny herself is also coolly beautiful – never hurts – and sings with a believable, intuitive sensitivity that lights up every song. True blue feelings here and like Rachael Davies reviewed here a few weeks back, Sunny sings with all the charm of an age gone by.
That’s My Desire is an old tune which has been revisited by many artists throughout the years, including Louis Armstrong; in this version, there’s a traditional blues veneer laid right on top and the end result is a classic, vintage summary of why any of us ever fall in love in the first place. (You will notice that I have opted for the word “vintage” here and not “old fashioned” on purpose – this is a highly sophisticated album and there’s nothing corny or embarrassing here to avoid). Sunny is all about the phrasing on this one, at times sleepy, othertimes evocative of another time period altogether. Take special note of the way she says: “little glass of wine” or “the thrill of your kiss.” The pure and breathy sincerity encapsulated in each syllable is stunning - this girl really knows how to land the plane! Check out the chunka-chunka rhythm of Duke and his chums too as they accompany her expertly and seamlessly on the journey – love this!
Okay, so just when you’re about to take a break to wipe your eyes after That’s My Desire Duke launches straight into Stop You’re Breakin’ My Heart a fast paced, snappy little number that is bound to propel you straight into a Zoot suit – or at the very least, out of your jammies! Musical syncronicity abounds on this one – the band is super tight to say the least – and as is evident in all of Duke Robillard’s musical efforts, that finely honed passion is contagious.
Introducing ... Sunny and her Joy Boys is also an enhanced CD so there is a bonus “video” which features my favourite and easily the best track : You’re My Thrill. Duke Robillard’s liner notes inform us that like many of the other cuts on the record this was also a single take and indeed, it’s hard to believe that it could be improved on. Although this is a full-on love song there is a desperately heart-twisting undercurrent of vulnerability which Sunny taps into so well in the way that she has interpreted the lyrics, making them unbearably honest and beautiful. Think: Nina Simone’s Wild is the Wind kind of sincerity with plaintive longing and a good measure of seductress thrown in. Duke also shows up with some inspired conga playing on this one – an unexpected but exciting component – and in keeping with that, there’s also an exotic, other worldly component to Billy Novick’s clarinet solo as well which I absolutely loved. Spin this tune while you are prepping dinner and you may end up with take-out much, much later …
Sunny Crownover is one to watch and Introducing ... Sunny and her Joy Boys is a great place to start – so get the album. It’s a keeper you will come back to again and again.
Sunny Crownover, Vocals; Billy Novick, Clarinet and Alto Saxophone; Duke Robillard, Acoustic Archtop Guitar, Conga Drums on track 5; Paul Kolesnikow; Acoustic Archtop Guitar; Jesse Williams, Acoustic Bass.