When you have a review blog, sometimes you receive requests from artists wanting you to review their albums – Sunflower Girl is the only unsolicited album I’ve received that I’ve genuinely enjoyed.
Sunflower Girl‘s songs were written in the year that followed Thornton’s wife passing away from cancer at the age of 29. As you’d expect, based on such circumstances, Sunflower Girl is utterly sincere. As much as Sunflower Girl is a lyrics focused album, it’s arguably more of a triumph musically; Thornton has a tendency to occasionally lapse into overused metaphors about ships and rainbows, not a surprise when the subject matter is so direct, while most of his melodies are genuinely memorable and his stripped down arrangements suit the material perfectly.
One frame of reference for Thornton is seventies folkie Roy Harper; Thornton’s voice has a similar lilt, his lyrics share the same yearning romanticism, and if he’s further from pure folk than Harper, his acoustic finger-picking still betrays a strong folk influence. Thornton handles most of the instrumentation himself, and recorded the songs in his home studio, and it sounds great; sometimes there’s little more than acoustic guitar.
Sunflower Girl’s strongest songs include ‘Under My Skin’, with a jazzy feel and some of Thornton’s most inventive lyrics (“She’s a poppy field/When you thought you’d see wheat”). The opening ‘Shake The Moon Down’ is agreeably memorable, while ‘Safely Home’ ends the album beautifully, with an uplifting resolution and gorgeous, subtle orchestration. There are plenty of pretty acoustic melodies like ‘That Girl’ and ‘He Does Not Deserve You’, and the pretty ‘Rosey (One More Time)’. The title track is overwrought, not surprising given the circumstances, and it’s a credit to Thornton as a writer that he’s able to capture a wider range of emotions than just the grief expressed on this song.
Sharing in someone else’s pain is sometimes the best way to soothe your own soul, and as an eloquent expression of difficult emotions Sunflower Girl is a success, where Thornton’s music legitimately serves as a conduit for his emotions and as a window to his soul.
If you’d like a copy of Sunflower Girl, visit https://andythornton.bandcamp.com/album/sunflower-girl to order a copy.