EmiSunshine And The Rain: Family Wars (Little Blackbird Records)
Reviewed by Harry Kaplan
Wowsers!!!! This is simply gorgeous. Completely reminiscent of a young Dolly Parton with the strong voice and the song writing chops of a seasoned veteran. I have to keep reminding myself that EmiSunshine is a mere 15 years old. Age is usually an unimportant number when it comes to writing a review, but in this case it is different. I cannot even imagine having the maturity and mindset, let alone creativity, to write such strong, memorable songs at 15 years of age. That in itself is astounding.
What else is astounding is that that EmiSunshine’s band is a family affair. Emi’s dad, Randall Hamilton, is the bass player, playing upright bass, electric bass, and provides pitch perfect backing vocals. Brother John Hamilton plays acoustic guitar, mandolin, and also lends a hand on the backing vocals. Then you have Uncle Bobby Hill hitting the skins and keeping the time on drums. All that familial knowledge just adds chemistry to the mix and raises this album up a couple of steps on the ladder.
This is about as country as it gets. And Emi is putting her stamp on country music. Her version has some dark overtones and even a bit of a Gothic feel on some of the tracks. Jonas Black (Track 6) has some really nice picking and fiddles, but what really makes this song special is Emi. That voice can hit notes that we weren’t even sure existed. Take a good listen to the last 30 seconds of this and marvel at the amazing vocal range.
Another track that I truly adore is The Ghost Of Hank Williams (Track 9), which also has some “Goth” in it. This track features Emi doing a yodel that is out of this world. The lyrics prove this young lady did her homework. At one point in the song, Emi mentions an incident about “kicking out all the stage lights” and that is completely awesome. It was Johnny Cash who kicked out those stage lights at the Opry. Both Cash and Williams were banned from the Opry. Hank never returned due to his untimely death. Johnny was able to return and even hosted his TV show from The Ryman.
The album commences with a pretty straight forward country song, Family Wars (Track 1). “Sister’s out here living in sin, Grandma’s on the dope again, and no one speaks to Daddy anymore.” How’s that for a powerful opening? I think Emi may really be a 40 year old pretending to be a teenager. These lyrics are definitely well beyond her chronological years. As I said, the young lady knows a thing or two about writing a country song. There is no sugar coating it. This is your family!
“Family Wars” is one fine album. This will definitely make EmiSunshine a household name. Not that she needs any help. She has 16 Opry appearances under her belt already and she isn’t even 18 yet!I digress. “Family Wars” is a must have and a good stocking stuffer.