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CD REVIEW: Sunflow – Under the Stars
By Chip Withrow - 03/18/2009 - 12:36 PM EDT

Artist: Sunflow
Album: Under the Stars
Label: Head Space Records
Genre: Folk/Pop
Sounds Like: Paul McCartney, Emmylou Harris
Production/Musicianship Grade: 10/10
Commercial Value: 9/10
Overall Talent Level: 9/10
Songwriting Skills: 9/10
Performance Skill: 9/10
Best Songs: Eve's Lullaby, Sleepytown, Daisies and Orchids, Now Sleep
CD Review: As a parent of a daughter who adores music, I always have my ears open for music that we can share. Sunflow's Under the Stars is an album I can appreciate even on days like this, when she is at school and I have the house to myself. The duo of Nancy Falkow and Fran King has crafted a fine album – it is billed as a collection of lullabies, but it is delightful listening on this breezy, sunny morning.

The disc follows a pattern of alternating King’s Beatle-esque numbers such as the loping “Daisies and Orchids” and the charmingly old-timey “Dreamboat” with Falkow’s rustic, acoustic guitar-based songs such as “Rock-a-Bye Dreams.” One common thread is the heavenly background singing they contribute to each others’ tracks.

The opening “(When You’re In) Slumberland” is a gently bouncy, piano-based number – King’s vocal and the lush background singing of Falkow and Duncan Maitland remind me of Paul McCartney and Wings’ best work. The same vibe lifts the buoyant, orchestral “Eve’s Lullaby,” on which Rory Doyle’s drumming is solid.

The country-ish “I Wish You Love” is driven by bright guitar and light percussion, with a swell piano solo by Duncan Maitland. Falkow’s vocal is warm and folksy, and the background singing is again a treat. And it was with the similarly acoustic “Sleepytown” that I realized how appealing this album would be to adults as well. Falkow’s singing here reminds me of Emmylou Harris but earthier, and it is complimented by more rich background vocalizing and Maitland’s slippery tremolo guitar.

“August Moon” marks King’s turn into guitar-based territory. It has an almost tropical lilt to it, and the guitars wash across the song like waves across the beach. “Now Sleep” is a departure for Falkow, too, a mid-tempo tune with a solid groove – it would fit right into contemporary adult alternative radio playlists.

The set closes appropriately with “Goodnight,” on which the multi-instrumentalist Maitland adds a lullaby-worth harmonium. And as Under the Stars draws to a close, I find that I’m relaxed but not sleepy, and ready to listen to it again.

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