Shell of a Girl
Hen House Studios
Sunny War’s music doesn’t prepare you for her back story. Shell of a Girl is a quiet, meditative, melancholy collection of folk-blues tunes. The music is so introverted that I imagine a singer in a coffee shop almost hiding in a corner, strumming her songs while not trying to bother the caffeinated clientele on their smart phones. That image doesn’t mesh with the girl who moved around the country with a single Mom before deciding that hopping freight trains was a good idea. Sunny War has been a modern day hobo. She’s been homeless, living on the streets. She lived on Venice Beach as a boardwalk busker and she plays with a punk band called Anus Kings. It just goes to show, you never can tell.
The music on is built around delicately plucked guitar lines. Sunny plays the bass line with her thumb and melody and chords with her fingers. It’s a style used by the old Piedmont blues musicians and banjo players. “The Place” feels haunted by the ghosts of Joao Gilberto and Nick Drake. Other songs are haunted by memories of her peripatetic life roaming the streets and train yards. “Drugs Are Bad” “Love Became Pain” and “Rock and Roll Heaven” reflect on bad times and loss. “Soul Tramp” looks wistfully at living constantly on the move.
Sunny’s songs may not be about the nicest things, but she sings about them in the most beautiful way. Her understated guitar provides just enough support for her voice. If she really were that introverted singer huddled in the corner of a coffee shop, Her music would slowly draws you in. Before long, you’re huddled in the corner with her, raptly hanging on her every word.