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Album Review: Sun June, 'Years'

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Keeled Scales

Sun June is a 5 piece outfit from Austin, Texas that create moving tapestries of warming folk pop that wistfully pours over  you like the wind on a calm summer night drive, windows down. After four single releases that have caught the eye and ear of many a music publication, comes Sune June’s wonderful debut, Years.

The story of their start is something out of a movie, well in a way. The band formed during a stint in nearby Estuary Studios, wherein Laura Colwell (vocals, keys) and Stephen Salisbury (guitar) were editing movie footage for local director Terrence Mallick, and took advantage of Mallick’s time away to craft the origins of Sun June. Not only did their sound take shape in that room, it was discovered there as well. Their warm pulsing sounds of airy nostalgia lifted through the floorboards to the ears of Tony Presley, one half of the founders of Keeled Scales (Twain, Buck Meek) residing in the apartment above.

Recorded in the same studio, Years features songs of introspection and reflection such as the pulsating stream of consciousness on it’s second life, Slow Rise II. The “II” coming from the fact that it was “reborn” thanks in part to Calwell’s “sad scone alone parties” the likes of Julia Jacklin described by the band as “the Queen of Rock N’ Roll Waltz”. Calwell’s vocals are stealthily sorrowful, yet still flow through you like a comforting low tide wave as she admits “I’m tired of feeling I was the only one” likely in reference to a past relationship.  

The third track, “Young”, has this glowing aura to it. The nostalgia filled song fills you with feelings of warmth like the sunshine piercing a cabin window in the morning before a day of exploration and thumping through the mountains. The album strolls along through its twists and turns, powered by the groove inducing flutter of bassist Justin Harris, and the delightful surprise of his smooth-like-butter saxophone that fills up Apartments.

There are many moments on Years that shape the realities of growth after heartbreak, best described by the artist’s own genre “regret pop”. Take “Apartments”, where the chorus of enchanting sirens form a sea of harmony around Calwell’s admission, “I had a dream about you”, a relatable feeling of a past relationship still looming. Chants of “But the ground still won’t move / forget about everything” join the pulse of Michael Bain’s sonic guitar layered with the jaunting drum beats of Sarah Schultz to test Calwell’s claim in “Baby Blue”. Still, I can’t say I subscribe to the message, as I continue to find myself shook with each listen.

Closing out the album we find “Underneath”, a beautiful marriage of melody and bounding twang that drives home the feelings of finding yourself in the midst of “hiding from” the one you had feelings for. Her cathartic message to close out the album stands powerful and layered, showcasing the message of the album that could serve as one’s guidebook on getting over heartbreak.

Layered is the best way I can think to describe this record. At it’s surface you may find yourself seeking it out as a way to unwind, perhaps you heard one of the singles at a trendy coffee shop that made you feel a sense of calm but still an urge to push onward. With each listen, more of the beautiful intricacies reveal themselves, allowing the feelings and message of Sun June’s music comfort you, even if it’s just solace in the fact that we are all reeling from our own emotional agony.