On Friday the 17th of November, Sunfire released their long awaited new Album The Devils Drink, just a day before the premiere of their Tales Of The Old West theatre tour in Rijswijk, and it is everything it promised to be. A wonderful collection of western folk songs as only Sunfire can make them.
Opening song The Devils Drink is a great introduction to their new theatre show. It is a ballad with a strong theatrical feel reminiscent of Ye Banished Privateers, or the Spleen Orchestra, even making me think of an old classic like: If I Were A Rich Man from the musical Fiddler On The Roof but always with that unique Western folk feel Sunfire have.
The sound of Sophie’s sobbing violin combined with Satria’s breaking gritty voice truly make this song. The ‘broken-pianola-playing-over-a windswept-violin’ segment becomes the first icing on this wonderful western folk cake.
For those who do not know Sunfire yet, the band makes a powerful mix of Americana and blue grass with touches of European folk, brought with the sharpness, power and energy that comes pretty close to some good old stoner rock. In Sunfire’s case, I find it extremely hard to think of bands to compare them with as they really have their own signature sound, but artists in the style of The Last Knife Fighter, Mean Mary or J.J. Cale come to mind, albeit Sunfire’s music is more rough and feisty than the before-mentioned artists.
We have come to know main lyricist Satria Karsono as a true storyteller, setting his songs in a version of the old wild west that seems to come from the combined minds of Sergio Leone and Tim Burton. We find his alter ego William J. Tanner in that dirty old place called Sinners Town again, where only the lowlifes, the bad and the ugly can survive. This album is filled with more stories of madame Sawyer, Deputy Frost, Banker Henry River and off course William J. Tanner himself.
Sunfire took their time recording this record, so many songs already became well known live favourites The Dolly Parton follow-up song Jolene for example; or the tragic ‘failed-marriage-before-it-even-started’ song Silently Passed Away; the upbeat americana-folk song Frost; Seven Deadly Sins with an interesting re-arrangement half way through, or the cheeky fan favourite Sawyer’s Dance.
The new songs: The Devils Drink – which I mentioned above; Ballad of River – a dark murder ballad that tells you nothing but suggests everything; One Day – a duet with Brotherwood singer Nicole Koning-Bouw, starting gently but building up to an impressive ‘Ghost Riders In The Sky on steroids’ climax; and the country ballad Leave The Bottle, they all fit right into the Sunfire world we got to know so well.
My personal favourite songs would be Grit, a heart wrenching power ballad showcasing the best of Satria’s abilities as a singer. A grooving bass, guitarriffs that cut like a chainsaw and a windswept violin provide the perfect basis for Satria’s anguished end notes. Truly awesome stuff!
My second favourite has to be Sunfire’s Opus magnum The Hunter. A western Folk epos equaling John Miles’ masterpiece Music. A whole movie in one song, epic in its build, played sharp as a knife, building up to a climax played with so much attack, so tight, it really sounds like a gunfight put down to music! Breathtaking is the word here! The whole album is perfectly mixed, but here sound engineer Berend de Vries and Jeffrey de Gans, who was responsible for the mastering, truly shine!
The Devils Drink brings you Sunfire at their very best. Catchy songs, talented musicians and lyrics with a dark sense of humour that puts a smile on your face every single time you hear them. Which leaves me with one question. Is that a hidden track suddenly popping up at two-thirds of the album? If so it is a last masterstroke of this awesome band that knows how to surprise even their biggest fans time and time again, including me.
Editor: Sara Weeda
PS: coming back to that theatre tour… It’s brilliant! Truly original in its setup, bringing the best out of the story telling qualities hidden within the band. Even bringing out their acting skills! You don’t want to miss out on this. Trust me, you really don’t!
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