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REVIEWS

Here's what some people have said about the album....

Andy Thornton

Sunflower Girl

Dubious Recordings DUB006

5 stars

Unforgettable listening experience from talented newcomer.

 

Initially the best way to fully appreciate just how good a musician Yorkshireman Andy Thornton is, is to listen to SUNFLOWER GIRL without knowing anything about it or indeed him. If you approach this album without any preconceptions you'll find an exquisite mosaic of the songwriters' art. Thornton writes wonderfully mature intelligent songs that require the listener to be equally mature and intelligent. SUNFLOWER GIRL is an album of wonderfully crafted songs that could only come from a man for whom writing is an extension of himself. But as thoughtful and well written as the likes of Shake The Moon Down, Under My Skin and Shores of Forever are (and you could select any of the songs as perfect examples), the real substance comes from the fact that Thornton is unable to separate himself from the music. SUNFLOWER GIRL will gently break your heart and then immediately restore your faith and for that alone, it deserves its place among the singer-songwriter classics.

 

However, when you learn that it was written in the year following the death of Thornton's wife, it becomes something different altogether. Only Andy Thornton will know the effect that writing and recording SUNFLOWER GIRL had on him but he lays himself so open on songs like Crashing and Burning and Rosey (One More Time) that it becomes almost too intrusive. As a writer Andy Thornton freeze-frames his experiences into 3 and 4 minute tapestries and they have no need of ornate settings, the poetry of Love's Promised Land requires nothing more than the simplest of arrangements and Thornton's soaring, aching voice, anything more would simply be a distraction, in this case simplicity adds lustre.

 

There is a gentle integrity about SUNFLOWER GIRL that originates from one source, the creator's care, paradoxically it also lifts the spirits. Andy Thornton is surely one of those musicians who measures success and failure in the quality of the music, not in the units 'moved'. It certainly meets the most stringent quality test on the first; let's hope for the sake of real music it also succeeds in the second. Listening to SUNFLOWER GIRL is an experience you'll never forget.

 

Michael Mee

 

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Here's another.... from FYFEOPEDIA Not quite as positive, but still broadly in favour.

Andy Thornton

Sunflower Girl

(2005)

To be honest, I’d never heard of Scottish singer-songwriter Andy Thornton or his previous project Big Sur, until his record company sent me a review copy of Sunflower Girl, his third solo album. These songs were written in the year that followed Thornton’s wife passing away from cancer at the age of 29. As you’d expect, based on such circumstances, Sunflower Girl is utterly sincere; to such an extent that it’s either going to hit listeners right in the stomach, or become an easy target for mockery with its extreme honesty and openness. I’m probably not the most impartial judge, since right now I’m feeling emotionally raw enough that unexpectedly happy endings in movies make me cry, but most of these songs have the former effect to me. As much as Sunflower Girl is a lyrics focused album, it’s arguably more of a triumph musically; Thornton has a tendency to occasionally lapse into overused metaphors about ships and rainbows, not a surprise when the subject matter is so direct, while most of his melodies are genuinely memorable and his stripped down arrangements suit the material perfectly. One frame of reference for Thornton is seventies folkie Roy Harper; Thornton’s voice has a similar lilt, his lyrics share the same yearning romanticism, and if he’s further from pure folk than Harper, his acoustic finger-picking still betrays a strong folk influence. Aged 47 when he recorded Sunflower Girl, Thornton has more in common with seasoned writers like John Martyn rather than the new generation of bed wetters like David Gray. Thornton handles most of the instrumentation himself, and recorded the songs in his home studio, and it sounds great; sometimes there’s little more than acoustic guitar.

Sunflower Girl’s strongest songs include ‘Under My Skin’, with a jazzy feel and some of Thornton’s most inventive lyrics (“She’s a poppy field/When you thought you’d see wheat”). The opening ‘Shake The Moon Down’ is handicapped by awkward lyrics in crucial places (no matter how heartbroken you are, “tell me please - have you never been in love?” is never an acceptable line) but it’s still agreeably memorable. ‘Safely Home’ ends the album beautifully, with an uplifting resolution and gorgeous, subtle orchestration. There are plenty of pretty acoustic melodies like ‘That Girl’ and ‘He Does Not Deserve You’, and the pretty ‘Rosey (One More Time)’. On the negative side, the title track is somewhat overwrought, like David Gates trying his hand at emo, not surprising given the circumstances, and it’s a credit to Thornton as a writer that he’s able to capture a wider range of emotions than just the grief expressed on this song. Sharing in someone else’s pain is sometimes the best way to soothe your own soul, and as an eloquent expression of difficult emotions Sunflower Girl is a success, where Thornton’s music legitimately serves as a conduit for his emotions and as a window to his soul.

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