Sun June

REVIEW: Sun June “Bad Dream Jaguar”


Sun June – Bad Dream Jaguar

If you’re a regular visitor to Americana Highways, John Prine is most likely a touchstone for you. Not surprisingly, country-adjacent acts like Kacey Musgraves and Maggie Rose have name-checked the songwriter, both before and after his death, because his songs (and his personality) evoked an emotional response that few others have ever been able to match. Even younger indie artists are discovering both his work and his hook. Austin-based band Sun June has included “John Prine” on their new album, Bad Dream Jaguar, a song that only begins to indicate the hazy longing found across the entire record.

Sun June chose a curious way to go about making Bad Dream Jaguar – their lead songwriters, vocalist/guitarist Laura Cowell and lead guitar player Stephen Salisbury, made a geographical split – Salisbury decamping to North Carolina – while electing to keep both the band and their relationship intact. The pain in that voluntary separation is evident from the jump. Album opener “Eager” is full of dreamy sadness and the kind of detail-laden imagery brought about by too much time and distance – “And you have my mother’s eyes/They remind me of how she sang along to late era Neil Young.” “16 Riders” is a synth-laden attempt to push feelings aside, with Cowell’s breathy, almost-not-there vocals matching the song’s key line – “It ain’t nothing but I wish it was.”

Bad Dream Jaguar’s lead single, “Get Enough,” is an acoustic spillage of emotions from Cowell’s perspective – “I’m in Texas now/And it’s easy for me to get lonely when I love someone.” “Washington Square,” meanwhile, reflects Salisbury’s perspective on a time before hard, damaging choices had to be made – “Back when all the things to come hadn’t yet/Back when all that I had done didn’t seem so bad.” But it is the piano-led “John Prine” that captures that mix of melancholy and musical benchmarks that make certain memories indelible, especially when someone else says what you can’t (or won’t) quite verbalize – “I had all night holding me back/I’ll have to forget what you said.” And even as it seems that Cowell and Salisbury figured their sh!t out – the singer moved to North Carolina last year – for folks still stuck between cashing out and pushing all the chips in, Bad Dream Jaguar can be a soundtrack for those rough, indecisive nights. With maybe a Prine song or two mixed in.

Song I Can’t Wait to Hear Live: “John Prine” – Nothing makes me happier than capturing a sad mood just right.

Bad Dream Jaguar was produced by Sun June and Dan Duszynski, recorded by Duszynski, Alli Rogers and Danny Reisch, mixed by Duszynski and mastered by Tess Greenham. All songs written by Sun June – Laura Cowell (vocals, guitar, keys), Michael Bain (lead guitar), Stephen Salisbury (guitar, vocals), Santiago Dietche (guitar, vocals), Justin Harris (bass) and Sarah Schultz (drums). Additional musicians on the album include Alexis Marsh (woodwinds), Justin Morris (pedal steel), Marlon Hedrick (trumpet) and Dan Duszynski (guitars, synths).

Go here to order Bad Dream Jaguar (out October 20):

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