J.E. Sunde writes beautiful, poetic lyrics on top of his folk rock instrumentals to create a vulnerable collection of his experiences with love. 9 Songs About Love is truly a work of art that is able to touch the core of your heart.
Although there are many people who do not care for love songs, this album should be heard by all. It covers every base: regret, giddy love, the risk of feelings, and the loss of control. Released November 20, it is J.E. Sunde’s third full-length album, and arguably his best. Sunde is a master of words and displays it incredibly throughout this release. Creating descriptive images with his lyrics, you find yourself daydreaming along to 9 Songs About Love. He knows how to write instrumentals that emphasize the lyrics without taking over. Layering harmonies in all of the right spots, Sunde gets the feels going.
“I Don’t Care to Dance” is more than stunning. It is one of the most romantic love songs I have heard. Sunde tells a story of someone who does not want to dance, but longs to be near their love, and eventually realizes they have been yearning to dance all along. Throughout the story, you hear about their dynamic and experience the tender moments between them as they move together. The lyrics are accompanied by a slow guitar picking through chords. If you want to experience the takeover of Sunde’s words, start by listening to this:
‘And you laugh as I stare down at my feet
Holy Mother of the humble and the weak
You gently lift my chin so I can look into your eyes
And you rebuke the bullshit and the lies
All those people who to me how to be a man
Well I don’t want to follow them any longer
So twirl me around the floor’
Just to emphasize his poetic writing more, the dance Sunde writes about is the experience that comes with falling in love. Writing about someone who has trouble feeling like they deserve love, Sunde transforms the story into a beautiful dance between two people.
Subtle and satisfying harmonies highlight the melancholy feelings that come with “Sunset Strip”. The folk-sounding acoustic guitar is balanced out by fun keys and a bouncy bass line. “Sunset Strip” is meant to get you reflecting on times of the past, bringing in lots of nostalgic feelings. The keys also showcase a little jazz and blues, spicing up the song. Opening the album, it captures Sunde’s folk rock sound well and sets the light – yet emotionally heavy – tone each song seems to have.
Another song I think is worth mentioning is “Risk”. It has a more upbeat tempo than the other tracks, which gives it a little spark. With the bass playing quick eighth notes and the percussion featuring somewhat of a dance beat, “Risk” closes the album on a fun note. I particularly like that the album finishes with the lyrics ‘Love’s a risk that’s worth the risk’ repeating over and over; it has a very wholesome feel that matches the entirety of 9 Songs About Love.
J.E. Sunde does a great job of diversifying his music throughout the album and gives each song a specific tone that’s hard to miss. He captures the feelings of lust, heartbreak, possibility, and tenderness flawlessly. I equally love how beautifully the instrumentals complement Sunde’s lyrics. He is able to lean into the specific feelings he attempts to capture with his bouncy bass lines, blues guitar riffs, playful keys, and full trombone sound. The trombone arrangements are written by Andrew Thoreen and fit in seamlessly with Sunde’s sound. Featured the best in “Your Love Leaves a Mark on Me”, Thoreen’s trombone lines come out around the 2:20 mark for a solo. Using two trombone parts in harmony, the solo section adds a lively element to the pretty song.
9 Songs About Love is a vulnerable collection of poetic tunes based on Sunde’s experiences. Covering so much under the huge umbrella of love, many can relate to this album. It includes acoustic songs such as “I Don’t Care to Dance”, full band tracks like “Your Love Leaves a Mark on Me” and “Love Gone to Seed”, and even a dance tune in “Risk”. I have enjoyed 9 Songs About Love so much that I would consider it one of the best folk rock albums of 2020. With each listen you are able to discover something new, making J.E. Sunde more impressive every time.