On her latest release Life At The Village singer/songwriter Sunny Ozell takes four songs from her brilliant album Overnight Lows, which was released earlier this year, reworks them all with acoustic instrumentation, adds a splendid cover of the Los Lobos’ “The Valley” and in the process creates a thoroughly stunning five-song EP.
Recorded live at the famed Village Studios in Los Angeles, Ozell’s “ genuine reimaginings of the songs,” as she puts it, results in placing even more of an emphasis on her dazzling voice and superb songwriting skills than the originals do. What these songs lose in subtlety because you don’t hear them as part of the atmospheric and lush soundscape of Overnight Lows, they gain back in sheer folksy, bluegrass-tinged power courtesy of the acoustic arrangements.
This is especially true of the lead song “Hammer and Nail” which, while an intense song on Overnight Lows, is transformed into an in your face Dylanesque anthem for our times on Live At The Village. Taking its title and meaning from the Staples Singers song of the same name, it delivers the overriding message that if you want to see real societal or political change, then you need to stop just talking about it and DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.
The other three songs from Overnight Lows – “Driving Highways,” “Comes and It Goes,” and “The Garden” are also reworked magnificently with each one given a more earthy and bluesy feel as well.
Ozell ends this five-song collection with the aforementioned and wonderful Los Lobos’ track “The Valley”. In her treatment of this inspirational tune from the iconic band, she takes a moving tale about immigrants and turns it into a story that applies to all of us.
In its call to appreciate the beauty that is right in front of us and its celebration of just being able to “Work through the day/ For as long as we are able,” Ozell offers us messages for all of our lives right now. By simply choosing to cover the song Ozell has also humanized the whole immigrant/immigration question, which in and of itself in 2020 America, qualifies as a potent political statement.
Her new video for the song which will also be released on July 17th, like the EP, can be viewed here:
On this EP, Ozell further illustrates the point that she proved on Overnight Lows – that she is unequivocally one of American music’s great talents right now, capable of writing and performing songs across multiple genres. That she is able to do it in such a captivating manner further speaks of her greatness. Count me captivated.
Live At The Village by Sunny Ozell on Chitin Records will be available on July 17 on her website .