Sunshine Anderson - The Sun Shines Again (2010)

Sunshine Anderson
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In spite of her optimistic moniker, it's been anything but a bright and happy time these last few years for Sunshine Anderson. Poised for stardom thanks to her 2001 smash, the inescapable "Heard It All Before," Ms. Anderson's soaring career momentum crashed and burned when her first label, Soullife, unexpectedly folded. Left to the mercy of a Warner Bros. and Atlantic Records merger, the Winston-Salem, NC native learned that her sophomore effort, Sunshine at Midnight, was dead last on their priority list and scrambled to find another deal, only to have it under-promoted by her new label, Mathew Knowles' Music World Entertainment,  in 2007.

The resulting turmoil affected her both personally and professionally, straining her marriage (to football player Christopher Terry) and sending her life on a drug and alcohol-induced downward spiral.

In spite of her optimistic moniker, it's been anything but a bright and happy time these last few years for Sunshine Anderson. Poised for stardom thanks to her 2001 smash, the inescapable "Heard It All Before," Ms. Anderson's soaring career momentum crashed and burned when her first label, Soullife, unexpectedly folded. Left to the mercy of a Warner Bros. and Atlantic Records merger, the Winston-Salem, NC native learned that her sophomore effort, Sunshine at Midnight, was dead last on their priority list and scrambled to find another deal, only to have it under-promoted by her new label, Mathew Knowles' Music World Entertainment,  in 2007.

The resulting turmoil affected her both personally and professionally, straining her marriage (to football player Christopher Terry) and sending her life on a drug and alcohol-induced downward spiral. But luckily, like many other artists before her, the 36-year-old found solace in motherhood and by spilling the contents of her broken heart in the studio, making her third release, The Sun Shines Again, an authentic and essential listen.

Filled with edge and emotion, the ten tracks (produced by Mike City with three co-written by Sunshine) make glorious use of Ms. Anderson's vocals , a throaty alto blend of street and sweet that explores the varying degrees of new and long-time love:  "Say Something" is an infectious, commanding dance-ready groove,  while "2nd Fiddle" is a moody proclamation declaring her heart off-limits to a brother who doesn't respect her---"Had a good thing but you found a way to mess up, at least you could be man enough to fess up/to how you been creepin', so baby I'm leavin.'" "Hard Love" speaks to the struggles endured after defying friends, family and common sense to follow the heart, and the 70s-styled slow-burner, "Nervous," showcases a vulnerable side of the characteristically-cool singer as she contemplates an evening with a potential Mr. Right: "I hope I picked the right dress, the other outfit's on the floor/ I ain't got a lot of time, it's already tomorrow, damn I'm nervous."

Since art often imitates life, most of ....Again  does come across as journal entries set to music, but even in the glimpse of strife, there is strength: the hopeful "Call My Own" acknowledges  the baby steps she's taking toward making room new love, and her first single, "Lie To Kick It," sounds tender at first, but quickly lays out in blistering detail how she busted a ‘playa playa' by meeting with other ladies eager to salt up his deceitful game ("You told me, your job was investment real estate/I found out you got caught up moving weight upstate."). "Karma's a Mutha," is another up-tempo dismissal, and one would have to be as dense as the tropics to miss the heartbreak seeping through "Life Back," a song ready to become a musical mantra for any woman reeling from infidelity and shattered trust: "I didn't know it then, but later I would find, you knocked up a jump-off, around the same time/that explains why you, were so MIA/it's all I could do, to not catch a case."

It's been a hectic and heart-wrenching decade for Ms. Anderson, but with music like this, the past shouldn't have the power to eclipse her future as one of her generation's most soulful conveyors of contemporary R&B. Catchy, yet cathartic, this third time is the charm and proves that even in the midst of darkness, true talent can prevail and eventually, The Sun Shines Again. Highly Recommended. 

By Melody Charles  

 
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