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Andy Thornton - Sunflower Girl

  by Malcolm Carter

published: 22 / 6 / 2007



Andy Thornton - Sunflower Girl
Label: Andy Thornton
Format: CD

intro

Outstanding third album of mature pop from Yorkshire-born and much under-rated singer-songwriter Andy Thornton


Quite why this album has come our way now is a mystery to me; it appears that it was issued in 2005 so the songs are already at least two years old. But a bigger mystery is why the name of Andy Thornton was unknown to me before this CD dropped through my letterbox. Maybe the album is being re-promoted now that the deluge of male singer/songwriters has diminished somewhat. At one point even to someone who loves that genre it seemed that a new David Gray was emerging each and every week and once James Blunt came along it all just got a little too much. Sensitive singer/songwriters suddenly lost their appeal. Too much of a good thing maybe. But it’s surprising that Thornton slipped through the net because this, his third solo release following two full albums and an EP, is an outstanding collection of mature pop-songs, not over- produced or over-played and without any unnecessary embellishments; at times the sound is very bare but it still manages to retain a nice, warm feeling and thankfully it’s one of those albums that doesn’t take an eternity to reveal just how good it is; that first listen will be enough to convince you that something special is going on here. Indeed once you get to the fourth song, ‘Crashing And Burning’ it’s obvious that Thornton writes songs that seem faintly familiar from the off and that demand repeat playing. Vocally it’s not easy to make comparisons to the Yorkshire-born Thornton’s vocals. At times a young John Martyn comes fleetingly to mind so it’s no great surprise that Thornton lists Martyn as an influence but these songs are much more accessible than those of Martyn’s. In at least one song, ‘That Girl’, Thornton has written a classic. A melody that is simply gorgeous, it’s the most heartbreakingly ‘unrequited’ love song that I’ve heard in many a year. These songs were written in the year following the loss of Thornton’s wife to cancer at the young age of 29 and obviously that awful experience must have had some effect on Thornton’s writing and there is an expected melancholy feeling running throughout these songs; there is also a certain honesty that comes through in Thornton’s vocals. In spite of the natural sweetness displayed in his vocals there is no denying that they are tinged with certain sadness. Being a newcomer to Thornton’s work I’m unable to say if his vocals before his great loss had the same feeling, but it certainly suits the mood of these songs. Although there is not a bad song on the album there are some songs that don’t quite measure up to say the brilliance of ‘That Girl’; that being one of the best songs I’ve heard all year. ‘Under My Skin’ for example where Thornton takes a more jazzy route, doesn’t work quite as well as the rest of the album. The song is lyrically very strong, recalling those sleepless early mornings hour by hour perfectly but Thornton just doesn’t sound so good in a jazz setting as he does on say the following song, ‘Shores Of Forever’ where he shows both just what an accomplished guitar player he is and also displays his John Martyn influences to good effect. In the overcrowded genre of sensitive singer/songwriters Thornton has much to offer and has an edge over the rest in his effecting vocal style and outstanding acoustic guitar playing. We can only hope that given a push in the right places Thornton’s time has finally come.



Track Listing:-
1 Shake the Moon Down
2 He Does Not Deserve You
3 Love's Promise Land
4 Crashing and Burning
5 Rosey (One More Time)
6 That Girl
7 Under My Skin
8 Shores of Forever
9 Sunflower Girl
10 Safely Home



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