For years, the incredibly prolific Sonny Smith has built his own brand of indie-folk and rock & roll. With a dozen albums to his name and a handful of related projects — including multiple stage plays, a full-length musical and his nationally-recognized art installation, “100 Bands” — under his belt, Smith has grown into a cult favorite. Following a string of records billed under his band’s name, Sonny and the Sunsets, Smith has gotten lyrically personal while going back to musical basics on his new LP Rod For Your Love. Recorded in Nashville by Dan Auerbach of Black Keys, Rod For Your Love roots itself in old-school, guitar-fueled rock & roll. These are love songs built for the garage and the dance floor, recalling the days when bands like The Kinks and The Velvet Underground were making left-field pop that celebrated the form while still bending the rules. Released on Auerbach’s new label, Easy Eye Sound, the album was recorded by Smith and his band in peak form at the end of a cross-country tour. The goal? To shine a light on the songs and the band, without many overdubs or assorted clutter. “My last record was very layered and used a lot of drum machines [and] synths,” Smith says. “By the time we got to Nashville and began working with Dan, I was thinking ‘Let’s just make a fun, guitar-driven record. I don’t want to have any extracurricular stuff here. I just want it to be really pure.'”

It’s hard not to identify with a song like “Pictures of You,” which find him remembering a former flame by sifting through her photographs. On “Burnin’ Up,” he swaps harmonies with songwriter Angel Olsen, turning the love song into a conversation between partners. Together, the two singles provide a stunning preview of Rod For Your Love – an album that finds Sonny Smith hitting another high mark, adding a new milestone to a career that’s made him a cult favorite for decades.

RIYL: Shannon and the Clams, White Fence, The Fresh and The Onlys, Angel Olsen

FCC Clean

Label: Easy Eye Sound

Going For Adds 1/22 & 1/23

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