Sunny War Releases "Anarchist Gospel" Tomorrow Via New West Records - Shares Album In Its Entirety Today

Article Contributed by New West Records | Published on Thursday, February 2, 2023

Sunny War will release her New West Records debut Anarchist Gospel tomorrow via New West Records. The 14-song set was produced by Andrija Tokic (Alabama Shakes, Hurray for the Riff Raff) and features appearances by Jim James of My Morning Jacket, Allison Russell, David Rawlings, Jack Lawrence of the Raconteurs, Micah Nelson, John James Tourville of The Deslondes, Kyshona Armstrong, Dennis Crouch, and more. All songs were written by Sunny War with the exception of “Baby Bitch” (Ween) and “Hopeless” (Van Hunt). With Anarchist Gospel, Sunny has crafted an eclectic set of songs that draw on a range of ideas and styles: ecstatic gospel, dusty country blues, thoughtful folk, rip-roaring rock and roll, even avant garde studio experiments. She melds them together into a powerful statement of survival, revealing a probing songwriter who indulges no comforting platitudes.
Met with widespread acclaim, NPR Music called her new music “Thrilling,” Rolling Stone said “It all amounts to a powerful statement from a singer-songwriter poised to become one of the year’s most vital voices in roots music,” and in their 9/10 rated review, Holler called it “a victory of an album,” saying “She sounds like a shrewd, modern-day Nina Simone.” MOJO Magazine named Anarchist Gospel their “Album of the Month,” calling it “an exercise in building hope out of chaos…remarkably centred and complete, the work of a songwriter who knows who she is and how she got here.” Uncut Magazine called it “a rich, evocative portrait” in their 8 out of 10 rated review while Glide Magazine called it “...a stunningly effective experience… a thoroughly unforgettable listen.” Sunny War also made her network television debut with a performance of the songs “No Reason,” “New Day,” and “Whole” on CBS Saturday Morning last Saturday, January 28th.
A day ahead of its official release, SPIN has shared Anarchist Gospel in full alongside a feature with Sunny War. They say, "The album, showcasing her probingly personal writing, affectingly understated voice, and magnetically dexterous acoustic folk-blues fingerpicking, is the work of an accomplished and distinctive artist. " Hear the album in its entirety HERE.
“I feel like there are two sides of me,” says the singer-songwriter and guitar virtuoso. “One of them is very self-destructive, and the other is trying to work with that other half to keep things balanced.” That’s the central conflict on Anarchist Gospel, which documents a time when it looked like the self-destructive side might win out. Sunny says, “Everybody is a beast just trying their hardest to be good. That’s what it is to be human. You’re not really good or bad. You’re just trying to stay in the middle of those two things all the time, and you’re probably doing a shitty job of it. That’s ok, because we’re all just monsters.”
As a kid, Sunny War was obsessed with AC/DC and also loved ‘80s guitar bands like Motley Crüe. Later, she was obsessed with Bad Brains, the Minutemen, and X. She is the rare roots artist who covers Ween and can drop a Crass reference into a song. “I don’t really make music with a traditional roots audience in mind. I like weird music, outsider music, like Daniel Johnston and Roky Erickson,” she says.
Even as Sunny War was developing a guitar style that married acoustic punk to country blues, her two sides were already at odds. As a teenager, she began drinking heavily, which led to her dropping out of school, and quickly becoming addicted to heroin and meth. For money, she busked along the boardwalks of Venice Beach, recording an album to sell out of her guitar case and letting that self-destructive side win most of the battles. A series of seizures landed her in a sober living facility in Compton, so emaciated that she could only wear children’s pajamas. Music remained a lifeline, and she fell in with a crew at Hen House Studios in Venice, where over the years she made a series of albums and EPs, including 2018’s With the Sun and 2021’s Simple Syrup.
Twelve years after she kicked meth and heroin, Anarchist Gospel documents a moment when Sunny War had finally gained the upper hand on her self-destructive side, only to watch that stability crumble.
After a difficult breakup and her lease in Los Angeles ended, Sunny moved to Nashville, where she was born and lived until she was twelve years old. Among the items she packed were demos for several new songs of heartache and hard-won hope. She booked sessions with Tokic and captured a raw energy in Anarchist Gospel.  As the recording wound down, Sunny received word that her father was in the hospital and wasn’t going to make it. She says, “This album represents such a crazy period in my life, between the breakup and the move to Nashville and my dad dying. But now I feel like the worst parts are over. What I learned, I think, is that the best thing to do is just to feel everything and deal with it. Just feel everything.”
Because it promises not healing but resilience and perseverance, because it doesn’t take anything for granted, Anarchist Gospel holds up under such intense emotional pressure, acknowledging the pain of living while searching for something that lies just beyond ourselves, some sense of balance between the bad and the good.
Sunny War has also announced her initial tour dates in support of Anarchist Gospel. Prior to the tour launching at Joe’s Pub in New York City on February 22, she will be appearing in Chattanooga, TN on February 11 at the Cherry Street Tavern. The tour also includes appearances at this year’s SXSW Music Festival in Austin, TX in March. A series of live appearances supporting Sarah Shook & The Disarmers have also been announced as well. Sunny War will celebrate the release of Anarchist Gospel this evening at Rough Trade Records with a free in-store performance and autograph signing beginning at 6pm. See tour dates, with more to be added, below.
Sunny War’s Anarchist Gospel will be available across digital platforms, on compact disc, and standard black vinyl. A limited to 750 Opaque Red Color Vinyl Edition is available via Independent Retailers, a limited to 300 Translucent Red & Black Marble Color Vinyl Edition is available via Heady Wax Fiends, and a limited to 200 Silver with Red Swirl Color Vinyl Edition is available via Magnolia Records. A limited to 500 Hand-Poured Opaque Red, Black, and White Color Vinyl Edition is available via Rough Trade and is also available NOW via NEW WEST RECORDS.
Sunny War Anarchist Gospel Track Listing:
1. Love's Death Bed
2. No Reason
3. Shelter And Storm
4. I Got No Fight
5. Swear To Gawd
6. Earth
7. New Day
8. Baby Bitch
9. His Love
10. Hopeless
11. Higher
12. Test Dummy
13. Sweet Nothing
14. Whole
Sunny War On Tour:
February 2 - New York, NY - Rough Trade Records (Signing & Performance)
February 11 - Chattanooga, TN - Cherry Street Tavern
February 22 - Joe's Pub - New York, NY
February 23 - Kennedy Center - Washington, DC
February 24 - Kennett Flash - Kennett Square, PA
February 25 - Narrows Center for the Arts - Fall River, MA
February 26 - Cafe Nine - New Haven, CT
February 27 - Atwood's Tavern - Cambridge, MA
February 28 - Press Room - Portsmouth, NH
March 1 - One Longfellow Square - Portland, ME
March 2 - Zen Barn - Waterbury Center, VT
March 3  - Funk N Waffles - Syracuse, NY
March 4  - Caffe Lena - Saratoga Springs, NY
March 5 - Back Porch Festival - Northampton, MA
March 7 - The Loft @ Manor Mill - Monkton, MD
March 8 - Richmond Music Hall - Richmond, VA
March 9 - Grey Eagle - Asheville, NC *
March 10 - New Brooklyn Tavern - Columbia, SC *
March 11 - The Earl - Atlanta, GA *
March 12 - The Basement East - Nashville, TN *
March 14 - White Water Tavern - Little Rock, AR *
March 15  - Ponyboy - Oklahoma City, OK *
March 17 - Austin, TX - SXSW Music Festival
March 18 - Austin, TX - SXSW Music Festival
March 20 - Continental Club - Houston, TX
March 21 - 100 Men Hall - Bay St. Louis, MS
March 22 - Princess Theatre - Decatur, AL
March 24 - Lo-Fi Lounge - Indianapolis, IN
March 25 - Reclaim the Stage Festival - Chicago, IL
April 21 - Old Settler’s Festival - Dale, TX
May 11 - Macon, GA - Grants Lounge
May 12 - Concord, NC - Cabarrus Brewing
May 21 - Portland, OR - Show Bar
May 22 - Eugene, OR - 10x10 Series
May 24 - Atscadero, CA - Bristol's Cider House
May 25 - Los Angeles, CA - Resident
May 26 - San Francisco, CA - Bottom of the Hill
May 27 - Strawberry Music Festival - Grass Valley, CA
* w/ Sarah Shook & the Disarmers