Review: Sunnsetter, “I Will Understand”

Sunnsetter - I Will Understand

Sunnsetter unveils his inner turmoil to the world on a new single and watershed of creativity from his phone.

Sunnsetter is the stage name for Toronto’s prolific songwriter Andrew McLeod.  His latest single, “I Will Understand,” contains multi-layered synthesizers and guitars which swirl together in a beautifully layered, lo-fi, melancholic tapestry above a trodding percussion.  Andrew recorded and plays all the instruments.  On his page he says this song is “a meditation on understanding why we return to the same old thought patterns and behaviors that we’ve spent so much time trying to distance ourselves from.”

I found myself intrigued by Sunnsetter.  This one song wasn’t enough to satiate so I’ll continue this review with the sprawling, immersive and hushed collection, “Naturally Occurring Improvised Music for the End of the World (iPhone Demos),” released on March 16, 2019.

Unlike the lush arrangement of “I Will understand,” this collection is understated and bare. Bare both in the sense of limited instrumentation and in the openness of Andrew to share his deepest thoughts and worries, in the tradition of Bill Callahan, early Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy/Will Oldham/Palace Brothers, Sebadoh, and Daniel Johnston.  There’s passion behind every strum of his acoustic guitar and honesty in every quiver in his voice.  “Don’t Be Senseless,” which comes late in the proceedings at track 12, is my personal favorite.  Andrew’s voice cracks and shivers in a hushed howl like a wolf searching for his pack and some sort of meaning or harmony in the world.  An unhinged window into his soul.

Andrew describes how this music was full of issues to release. He couldn’t produce the proper way to release the songs and was “tired of having this music.”  He explained this is not a finished piece of work, which is unfortunate.  The nature of these songs seems to be of shedding one’s insecurities, a flushing of internal turmoil. When considering this, it makes sense to have wanted to spend as little time revisiting them but, a little mixing could have done a world of good to keep the volume steady from one track to another.

These skeletal iPhone songs showcase Andrew as a versatile, emotive, delicate guitar player and singer.  His latest single “I Will Understand” adds a more varied sound, it hints that perhaps the darkest times are behind him for now and, there’s limitless possibilities when he can hold on to these thoughts, let them ferment and bloom just a little before releasing them to the wild.

Check out: “I’d Like to Stay in Bed,” “Don’t Be Senseless,” “In My Head”

Preview and buy “I Will Understand” on Bandcamp.

 

Steve Murphy

A bit of a Renaissance man, Steve Murphy is a singer-songwriter, author, and journalist based out of London, Ontario. An avid vinyl collector and audiophile, his personal collection of albums is wide ranging and in the thousands, including four released from his band Westminster Park.

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