Down and Up Blues

Giant Sea Babies Publishing

By Lady K.
June 2014

Out of Brooklyn, NY, Sunshine is a band of two for this recording: Amy Santos (vocals and bass) and Steven Ferrara (vocals, guitars, lap steel, piano, organ, harp, banjo, mandolin, sax). The liner notes list additional different musicians for some tracks: Drums (Joe McLean, Katie Fuller, Pitti); slide, acoustic, electric guitar (Mike Lambert); trumpet (Crawford Forbes); tambourine (Joe McLean); congas, harmonica (Aaron Jaekel); and piano (Mike Lambert). What the liner notes didn’t include is credits - original tunes or covers – although there appear to be several covers.

Warning, Lady K gets bitchy when her time is wasted, so her first comment is that Sunshine is not a blues band. They manage to get a bit of the blues into a few tracks, but the rest of the CD is, I dunno, a bit of light, new-age rock(?) and some jazz. Not Lady K’s cup of Bombay.

“Long Sweet Helen” has some nice swinging guitar, and is a bluesy rocker, with Ferrara on vocals. Even listening with headphones, the lyrics are mostly indecipherable, BUT the music is nice. “A Thousand Love Songs” is a light rock ditty, with Amy Santos as lead vocalist, and again lyrics are not clear in places, and mostly don’t make sense; not memorable. The duet, “Masterpiece of Mud” is more of the same. I have absolutely no idea what this tune is about or what the title means.

“Dry Eyed Tampa”, is a slow tempo tune. Since no one else is listed in the credits for this track, I assume that Ferrara is playing guitar (in addition to singing). I like his guitar. “The Things That Harm Me” has a nice beat and is light rock – not blues or jazz - up-tempo, and just painful to listen to; literally. It sounds like Sunshine are both singing again – and there’s some very loud screaming – and I don’t know why, because again the lyrics are unclear (and made Lady K want to scream).

Lady K’s day-job telephone system has ‘hold music’ that she has labeled ‘dorky cartoon music’ and “Finger String” and “Everybody’s Crazy ‘Bout the Doggone Blues But I’m Happy” fit in that category They are both light-hearted ‘happy’ cartoon music. There’s WHISTLING and Santos singing on “Finger String”. On Everybody’s Crazy, there is no whistling, and really no musicality, just an acoustic guitar mimicking Santos’ lyrics “Rise Above” has slow, bluesy and sexy guitar from Mike Lambert with a bit of Jaekel’s harp in the background. Again, the Ferrara’s vocals (maybe ‘Somebody please give me the strength to wake up today’ – I think if he’s singing it, he’s awake) just detract from the music – it could have been a good instrumental. “Until We Both Close Down” is more jazz than anything, so maybe the brass is meant to sound out of tune. There is confusing noise in the background – either static or perhaps it’s meant to sound like rain, maybe? Lambert’s slide helps and it’s a very short track, which is a good thing. Another blessedly short tune (about 90-seconds) is “Your Next Big Thing”.

Lady K hates this CD – sorry.

<- back to Features