Stubborn Breathing Heart – Forest Sun (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

Often, the term “Americana” is used to describe an amalgam of sounds which when fashioned together result in songs which echo with the quintessential vibe of the United States. Forest Sun takes this a stage further and his latest album, his tenth to date, is a series of songs, each inspired by and infused with a particular sonic style of that musically broad and eclectic country. To this end, the album feels like a sonic journey in its own right, stopping in at various clubs and bars, halls and houses, roadhouses and venues to sample the myriad delights of the musical fabric of that nation.

Forest Sun’s sound is based on a gentle blues vibe and Stubborn Breathing Heart takes this as its core sound. But it is the various styles which he merges that with, the genres with which he cross-pollinates, which makes this album a gorgeous musical odyssey.

Kicking off with Keep On Rolling, we are immediately presented with smooth reggae grooves and warm harmonies, and as an opening salvo, its message is clear. Expect the unexpected. The title track is a subtle country ballad, Something You Got is old-school, brass-driven R&B that Southside Johnny and his Asbury Dukes would have approved of mightily and Where is My Home exists at the point where beautiful blues spills over into gorgeous gospel sounds.

And as he is pushing his own musical boundaries and exploring cool sonic pathways, despite the breadth of the various styles employed, there is consistency at work and Stubborn Breathing Heart never sounds anything other than a Forest Sun album. I guess it is because he understands that genres and labels are just journalistic devices and in reality, all music is related, you just have to find the meeting point between one sound, one vibe, one tradition…and another. Not only does Forest Sun explore that common ground expertly he merges it together so deftly that you never even see the join.

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