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Sonny And The Sunsets - Talent Night At The Ashram

Sonny Smith has outdone himself this time. As (loose) concept albums go this is a gem.

Originally conceived as the soundtrack for a series of linked tales that would form a whole movie the project has, so far, only produced the album, such is the breadth of influences and styles involved not forgetting Sonny's insightful, amusing and often downright brilliant lyrics.

Enlisting the likes of Kelley Stoltz, Shayde Sartin & Garret Goddard in the making of the record has enabled the sound of "The Sunsets", already pretty varied & accomplished, to bring in '80s synth elements, sitar backing tracks, psych tinges and folk fringes.

As for those lyrics and the ideas they're put in the service of where to begin? Initially we have Smith applying to be a human being ('The Application') whilst elsewhere he dreams of a house wherein live all the women he's ever known ('The Secluded Estate') and chronicles the saga of a bunch of grocery employees ('Happy Carrot Health Food Store').

The hummability of that opening track ("Please don't write in red ink on my application honey, baby") and it's Beach Boys-like harmonies will catch you unawares, if my experience of it is at all typical. Whilst abhorring the idea of any of the songs soundtracking ads to become the hit it so readily deserves to be, particularly in the summer months, a lot of people are going to have to be similarly taken over by its (to me) obvious charms - that hummability carries on throughout the bulk of the remaining nine songs, backed up by a generally toe-tapping pace and an unshakeable sunny disposition.

Talent Night At The Ashram is available from amazon & iTunes.

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