Sunshine Anderson : Your Woman

A stunningly assured debut from Macy's girl...

They say familiarity breeds contempt. But ‘they’ say a lot of things – that women who sing songs articulating their frustrated relationship concerns are nothing more than ‘dissing misses’. But there’s a warm, familiar feel to Sunshine Anderson’s work. That’s not because she’s updating Destiny’s Child, Pink, Kandi (or at a stretch) Strings’ male-bashing anthems. No. Sunshine’s familiarity comes from her musicality. There are horns straight out of the JB’s school of vibrancy and basslines that throb at a heightened pace to those favoured by the nu classicists. This music is [I]alive[/I].

Lyrically, Sunshine gives good voice to numerous relationship quandaries. The deliciously hefty first single, ‘Heard It All Before’ grasps the ‘reject the rules of stanzas’ ethic rappers like De La Soul worked so well – Sunshine relays her words [I]and[/I] that of her no-good man’s too while her backing singers admonish. ‘Heard It All Before’ is enviably refreshing because it’s so well structured, layered and clever – how else would you describe a song that speaks of betrayal, voices embitterment [I]and[/I] sounds triumphant?

Album-wide, Sunshine’s ray’s illuminate. From the throbbing red light sexiness of ‘Where Have You Been’ to the utterly, butterly gorgeousness of ‘Lunch Or Dinner’ (yes, girls can do the asking), you simply cannot escape how well structured and precise this material is. This is an album made by a band who have been waiting years to show off; it’s an album made by a woman emerging from the fog of adolescence still idealistic despite experience’s visit.

And y’know what? This is an album that should make Sunshine’s established peers ashamed of their own debuts (SWV’s Coko, En Vogue’s Terri Ellis’, Janet Jackson’s) all of which pale into creative insignificance in comparison (it’s worth wondering if this is the album Sunshine’s manager, Macy Gray planned to make before the pressure to appeal to the mainstream soul-lite audiences were put on her).

Make no mistake, ‘Your Woman’ is 2001’s ‘Brown Sugar’, ‘Baduizm’ and ‘Miseducation’; it’s got r&b’s sass, soul music’s depth, nu classic’s forward sounding retro vibe. It’s the stepping stone from the cluttering urban chart hits to intelligent, retrospective soul music. If you don’t own this album come the end of the year, you obviously don’t love and respect (or know) soul music.

Jacqueline Springer