Updated: Oct 19, 2022
Recorded live in the studio with the Pittsburgh area's top musical talents, Sun King Rising's new album--released two weeks ago--is garnering universal praise from top critics the world over. These are the players and singers who made it so special.
Kev Rowland’s review at House of Prog: (October 9, 2022) There is greatness within, and anyone who enjoys Americana style rock cannot afford to miss out on what is a true classic of the genre. Accessible from the very first note, it repays repeated plays as there is just so much breadth and depth within. Music rarely gets better than this. FULL REVIEW.
John Blangero joined his first band aged fourteen and today he’s a renowned geneticist, but it’s under the Sun King Rising moniker that he’s achieved musical renown. With the splendour of early Elton John and John Fogerty’s rootsy grit, Blangero captures the turbulence and romance of southern American life, its pains and passions. His influences might be steeped in holy soul’n’roll, yet these songs are anything but pure nostalgia.
Signs & Wonders is the latest SKR outing, kicking off with ‘Bitter Waters Sweetened’ where a swinging melody meets hymn-like backing vocals, boogie-woogie piano and sultry organ. ‘No. 6 Magnolia venue’ then favours hsort blasts of brass leading to an immense feel-good chorus. Tracks like this should be legal requirements for any jukebox anywhere.
An intense mood of pathos comes with ‘Lanterns On The Levee’ before the beseeching jazz-gospel of ‘Buried In The Blues Again’. Blangero’s strident voice speaks the same language as the Stax-like instruments backing it. And it’s rare to find a white singer with this kind of spiritual verve.
The narratives run a darker course on ‘Jubal Takes A Wife’ with its psalmic groove and modern Biblical imagery, topped by another perfectly formed chorus. Its companion piece ‘She Was A Blonde’ is a redemptive rocker wherein ‘the air was thick as blackstrap’. Signs & Wonders offers a grand and gracious set of melodies, burning with real fervour. Old mother Memphis, you’re rearing them yet!
LET IT ROCK MAGAZINE [Sun King Rising's] effortless shift from reality to “southern noir stories” as Blangero describes this somewhat mystical run of songs. With the swamps and waters of John’s imagination running deep, “Signs & Wonders” is a satisfyingly psyche-cleansing experience. FULL REVIEW
And as a tasty treat, we get the first single release No. 6 Magnolia Avenue. This single is a plentitude of instrumentation and melodic expression. Reminiscent of early 70’s soul and jazz-rock in the likeness of Chicago, and Blood, Sweat & Tears, No. 6 Magnolia Avenue is a quick-tempo rocker that keeps audiences dancing, swaying, and jiving on this groove. FULL REVIEW
Nomination: Album of the Year This LP isn’t merely an introduction to a concept pioneered by a bold upstart musical genius; it’s a look into the very soul of an artist who isn’t going to conceal his passion for the play any longer. The bottom line? Signs & Wonders is his watershed moment and required listening for indie-pop connoisseurs. FULL REVIEW
Jessica Mar at Headbangers News. (October 10, 2022) Translated: This new work presents a version of the artist more musically and technically evolved, with captivating arrangements and melodies, mixing nostalgia but also sounding fresh and full of modernity. FULL REVIEW
it’s easy to understand why he’s captured the dedicated following he has after taking even the most cursory of looks at what he’s accomplishing with this content. Signs & Wonders is a story of self-awareness above all else, but beyond this, it’s a great way to get into a criminally underrated artist. FULL REVIEW
Cleopatra Patel in Big Celebrity Buzz. (October 11, 2022) This LP is going to have you eager for more after a single listening session. For every question he poses to himself with the conceptual compositional style utilized in Signs & Wonders, SKR answers back with something inventive and thought-provoking, setting the bar much higher than any of his contemporaries would dare to at the moment. Simply put – he has my support, and with this ability, he’ll probably gain yours soon enough. FULL REVIEW
This is a landmark recording in that respect, and if given a little bit of the exposure its contemporary releases are getting online at the moment, I think it’s going to make SKR a household name among indie aficionados. FULL REVIEW
Please subscribe to The Lowdown for more stories like this. Click the Login button below.