The Sunny Era

REVIEW: The Sunny Era “The Sky King”


The Sunny Era – The Sky King

First impressions hint toward a progressive landscape musically but with Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young type harmonies & add a female (nice concept). Beginning with “The Start & End We Know,” the occasional Euro-style arrangement with what sounds like a clarinet & a fairy tale flirtatious female voice & you have a pastry called The Sunny Era (the band’s name is appropriate).

The Sunny Era

By the 3rd cut “The World So Cold,” the band shifts its sound bearings into a late-career Cowsills-type vocal shading. The Cowsills had started as a family pop group in the 60s but morphed into a credible folk-roots Americana unit, especially with the guidance of daughter Susan Cowsill (The Continental Drifters). But that’s what I hear as this lovely melody rolls swiftly with its bright guitars & distinctive vocals.

The collection throughout is light & breezy. Many well-played songs. Some are atmospheric & vocally show some muscle as flexed on the title track “The Sky King,” which provides a heavy-harmonic meandering of several Germanic progressive bands like Amon Duul (who also had a female vocal). It plods along or should I say it’s propulsive. Yes, that’s better. It’s indeed lucid, exhilarating & has a sense of danger yet the instrumentation maintains its heavy cream distinction with no sludge.


Produced by the Minneapolis band that began in 2006 The Sky King (Drops June 15–Independent) is their 6th with songs immaculately crafted with borrowed magic from the English traditional folk-rock bands (Strawbs, Fairport Convention, Steeleye Span, Pentangle & Curved Air). Still, they facilitate American flexibility through their progressive/folk approach. “The Phone,” has this scent all over it & whatever The Sunny Era is doing it smells so good.

Applying a more surreal, ethereal musical identity to “The Feelings,” the vocals have a more traditional path, but the music simply elevates to an art form. Its musical clouds have dark hues in its thunderhead sky but there’s a point of sunshine that slices through the deep purples. That’s what I hear.

The most rock-oriented tune comes with “I Love You,” — jangling guitars & open circuit vocalizing. It has drive & yes, it’s on repeat. Laila Stainbrook’s (violin/vox/keys) expressive vocal tone is the perfect balance to the male vocals. The guitars grind at times & there’s never a loss of intensity. Quite enjoyable.

My only critical take: the band deserves far better song titles than these simplistic ones. Let the song titles reflect the superb performance & vocals.

Highlights – “The Start & End We Know,” “The World So Cold,” “The Show,” “The Push,” “The Sky King,” “The Phone,” “The Feelings,” “I Love You,” “The Lifetime” & “The Lovely Girl.”

Musicians – Eric Stainbrook (guitars/vox), Pat Zampogna (guitar/pedal steel), Tony Zampogna (bass) & John Idso (drums).

B&W image courtesy of their Facebook. The 50-minute, 14-track CD @


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