“Believing in magic can be tragic,” sings Sunny War forlornly on 'New Day', weaving her voice around her intricate finger picking so tightly it’s sometimes hard to tell the singer from song. There’s a gentle shake in her delivery, but it’s this fragility that gives the song its power.
Haunting and heart-stopping, it’s what we’ve come to expect from the no-shit-taken, no-fucks-given singer-songwriter, who is often at her most incendiary and emotionally tempestuous in her quieter moments; one of the many contradictions she carries.
“I feel like there are two sides of me,” says the guitar virtuoso. “One of them is very self-destructive, and the other is trying to work with that other half to keep things balanced.”
“Everybody is a beast just trying their hardest to be good. That’s what it is to be human. You’re not really good or bad. You’re just trying to stay in the middle of those two things all the time, and you’re probably doing a shitty job of it. That’s ok, because we’re all just monsters.”
That’s the central conflict that runs through her new album Anarchist Gospel, which documents a time when it looked like the self-destructive side might win out. The latest taste of the album comes with ‘New Day’, a delicately picked, boldly flavoured folk ballad that manages to somehow pull hope and a strange kind of beauty from the depths of human despair.
Like Will Oldham and Mark EItzel and the great sad-folk singers of our time, when she sings, Sunny War has that same sense of effortless expressiveness in every turn of phrase and that same ability to find light somewhere in all that the darkness.
‘New Day’ is premiering exclusively at Holler below.
“You stole the light right from my eyes / Jarred it up Like fireflies,’ she sings at one point, and it almost brings you to your knees. Sunny War has always had a way of lifting herself up again though, and lifting the listener up with her, and she leaves us with a sunnier denouement: “My mind may change / Even when made up / Cos every day’s a new day for Love”
"It’s probably the most sensitive song on the album,” she tells us. “It is very emo. For me, it is about how whimsical love can feel. When we fall out of love, we realize we were almost under a spell. To me, believing in love is much like believing in magic. And I believe in both."
Sunny War’s Anarchist Gospel will be available across digital platforms, on compact disc, and various different vinyl variants on February 3rd on New West. Click here to preorder and presave.