Sunday Wilde - What Man? Oh THAT man!

This is a review that is a little hard to do. I’m reviewing an album that I enjoy, that I enjoy rather a lot, but that is exceedingly hard to describe adequately. Sunday Wilde has produced a record that I find fascinating, but I’m sitting here finding it a little hard to put my finger on exactly why I do.

So let’s examine what we have. Right from the off it’s an unusual record, there is no percussion per se, it’s devoid of drums, for the most part rhythms are provided by the popping of a doghouse bass, that is until what sounds like a typewriter kicks in for one track. The bass is joined by a well played boogie piano and a guitar player who has been on the same kind of crazy pills as Buddy Guy. Combine these with a musical setting that mixes 20’s juke joints, Gypsy jazz, novelty blues from the 50’s and a coquettish kind of sexy that is strangely alluring, then you add in Sunday’s voice. She certainly has an impressive instrument, individual, sweet at times and yet capable of a mean growl reminiscent of Koko Taylor. 

The songs, too, are unusual, they leap from the crazy sexiness of the opener (where the Sunday growl and yelp is in full effect) to the sweet sadness of the closer. It could certainly be called an eclectic collection, nothing flows necessarily as you’d expect, but they sit well together and for some intangible reason it works. The simple core instrumentation and band is quite possibly the reason. They’re obviously a fairly tight bunch and feed well off each other, producing a consistent sound that ties the disc together well.

The album isn’t perfect though, and it’s mainly down to the piano, though not the pianists performance. The bass and guitar, along with Sunday’s voice have been stupendously well recorded, and the quality of the piano sound really doesn’t match up. From what I’m hearing it’s a digital model rather than a real one and the two dimensional sound it produces is a real contrast to the other instruments. It’s disappointing as the instrument is expertly played, and it’s the sound I’m criticizing.

So, what we have is a well played album, with generally good sound, an esoteric collection of songs and an amazing singer with a distinctive voice. What can I compare that to? I can’t pigeonhole it in the slightest. I can draw parallels in places, Bessie Smith, Madeline Peyroux and Koko Taylor spring to mind as I’m listening, but not consistently. This is constantly coloring outside the lines it sets for itself and that’s what I like. It starts off as an album with borders and rules, then halfway through the first song all that goes out the window. Brilliant.