Listening to … Sundy Best, ‘Bring Up the Sun’

 

Prestonsburg natives Kris Bentley and Nick Jamerson are Sundy Best, a Lexington-based band that is gaining national recognition ahead of the release of its second album, "Bring Up the Sun," March 4, 2014. They were photographed Feb. 15, 2014, performing at the Round Ball Bash, a fundraiser for Cardinal Hill Rehabilitation Center. Photo by Rich Copley | staff.

Prestonsburg natives Kris Bentley and Nick Jamerson are Sundy Best, a Lexington-based band that is gaining national recognition ahead of the release of its second album, “Bring Up the Sun,” March 4, 2014. They were photographed Feb. 15, 2014, performing at the Round Ball Bash, a fundraiser for Cardinal Hill Rehabilitation Center. © Herald-Leader staff photo by Rich Copley.

Sundy Best‘s first album, Door Without a Screenwas geared to establish the Prestonsburg natives and Lexington-based duo as a Kentucky band with songs like Mountain Parkway and Kentucky Women.

140303SundyBest-CoverBring Up the Sunwhich released on iTunes Monday and drops everywhere else Tuesday, is designed to make a national name for Sundy Best, and there’s really no reason that shouldn’t happen.

From the songs many fans already know by heart to new tunes that quickly catch the ear, Sundy’s Entertainment One Music Nashville debut is a record that doesn’t have to ask for repeated playings.

Like many label debuts for grassroots acts, Bring Up the Sun carries a few songs over from the group’s first album including the signature Home, redone and retitled I Wanna Go Home, and the poignant Lily, now Lily ’14. But there is also plenty of new material, though live audiences have been hearing quite a bit of it for a while.

With gigs at places like Redmon’s, guitarist Nick Jamerson and cajon player Kris Bentley have established themselves as a first class party band, and the new material carries that mantle, particularly These Days with hard driving beat and rousing chorus about self reliance. Until I Met You is an infectiously cheerful love song that should fit in fine on country radio playlists.

Where the album really adds to Sundy Best’s catalog — and really, a second album can’t help but add to your catalog — is strong ballads like album-closer Painted Blue and Thunder, Jamerson’s tough love declaration that sits well against Bentley’s Lily, a breakup song well worth revisiting.

Lest you think Sundy Best is going big time and leaving Kentucky behind, there are a number of namechecks and tributes on Bring Up the Sun, particularly on Jamerson’s Mean Old Woman, a great cajon showcase for Bentley.

One thing you don’t hear here is much pop gloss. This is not a country band that really wants to be Macklemore or something.

The album’s biggest flaw is length. At 15 tracks, there are a couple like NOYA that don’t hold up as well against the rest of the material and might have made the album better and more concise in their absence. But you can always skip something you don’t like, and the news of Bring Up the Sun is what a strong label debut it is.

There are plenty of artists from Kentucky and elsewhere that want to break into country music. But few offer as many solid, accessible cuts as this record, even three or four albums into a career. There is no such thing as a shoo-in when it comes to big-time entertainment prospects. But Sundy Best enters the game with a very strong hand.

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