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SONNY AND THE SUNSETS - Longtime Companion

For his third full-length leading the Sunsets, Sonny Smith (mostly) tries his hand at writing heartbreaking country songs, and succeeds wildly, resulting in maybe his best album yet, with occasional touches of flute and pedal steel that add an ornate yet unshowy elegance to these recordings, offset by Smith's endearingly yelped lines relating both deep woes ("My one and only love/My babe, the divorcée") and shallow wonders ("I want something dumb/That I can understand/Let me be a dog in the sun rollin' in the sand," a line he finds so nice he uses it twice, Lindsey Buckingham-style).

"Longtime Companion is ostensibly a country album, but it’s a testament to Smith’s singularity that it mostly just sounds like a Sonny Smith album. Sure, it shuffles along a two-step pulse and comes glazed with plenty of steel-guitar weeping. Recorded after Smith and his girlfriend separated, the record does have a noticeably more wearied sound, and the twangy accoutrements add just the right amount of heartbroken creak and moan to suit the album’s circumstances. The difference is most clear on "Pretend You Love Me," which appeared on Hit After Hit as a jangly (spiked) soda-shop ballad; here, it’s a staggered, melancholy country-rocker." - Paste

"Breakups can do unpredictable things to a guy. For singer-songwriter Sonny Smith, separating from his girlfriend of 10 years led him in a musical direction he’d never gone before. The first time his singing voice appears on Longtime Companion, a second or two into opening track "I Was Born," it’s striking how different it is from his earlier work. It’s twangy and crystal-clear, the perfect aural realization of the album cover’s hapless sincerity, but also the sort of affect and presentation that might scan as Hee-Haw in the wrong hands. Fortunately for Smith, it fits him like a snug Stetson, and only becomes more endearing the longer it plays on." - A.V. Club

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