Sun King Rising Releases New Album

Winking at us like the morning sun peeking out over the horizon at dawn, “One More Story to Tell” starts with as dreamy a tonal offering as we could ask for. Not unlike the pleasant ascent of “Anchorless,” this song sees Sun King Rising scaling a mountain of misunderstanding with plaintive poeticisms that cut deep and sting long after the music has ceased to play. “No. 6 Magnolia Avenue” is a bit more direct thanks to its hearty instrumental harmonies and “Alabama Nocturne” a touch more multilayered through its complex arrangement, but no matter the size or shape of the content being hurled at us from the darkness in SKR’s new album Signs & Wonders, it constantly feels as though we’re hearing something previously kept quite secure within the heart of its creator.


There are no boundaries he won’t cross if it means translating emotionality with a melodic whim limited to only the most profound artists among us, and although there’s an argument to be had that he’s got a more elaborate means of making a larger-than-life tracklist than the status quo calls for, it’s undisputedly the most unique I’ve had the opportunity to sit down with in the past year.  

“Low Wine and Cruel Ruin” and “Lanterns on the Levee” are cut from the same aesthetical cloth, but they don’t give us nearly as much insight into the depth of passion SKR has for the narrative in Signs & Wonders as the instrumental “Bitter Waters Sweetened” and its immediate successor “No. 6 Magnolia Avenue” do. I found that it’s in the simplest of moments here that we get the clearest picture of the artist we’re dealing with beneath the clouds of smoke obscuring his identity – and occasionally making it possible for us to mistake it for our own – which says more about his straightforwardness than it does anything regarding his showmanship. “Buried in the Blues” and “She Was a Blonde” are still episodic segues of grand luster, even if they do incorporate unnecessary fireworks, and at no point does any of the content in Signs & Wonders sound like filler in the traditional sense of the term.  

In tracks like the noisy sonnet “Jubal Takes a Wife,” there’s a fragility to the performance Sun King Rising is giving us that feels nothing like what we get from the more familiar “Lanterns on the Levee,” but when consumed in its entirety (as was mandated by the man behind the music himself), all of the songs comprising this album form a patchwork of personal statements and commentarial poetry you would never find anywhere else in the world. SKR changes the game for himself and the scene he’s come to reign over so supremely in the past ten years with Signs & Wonders, and if what I’m hearing in this record is giving me any sort of a preview as to what the future is going to look and sound like for his camp, this might not be the last landmark release his discography enjoys in the early 2020s. No matter how you dice it, this LP is a winner for anyone with an affinity for incendiary alternative music.  

Michael Rand

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