Americana singer/songwriter Forest Sun has been making quality albums for more than a decade, yet I’d never had the pleasure of hearing him do his thing until “Just Begun” came across my desk a couple of months back. After several spins of the 12-track gem, I sought out Sun’s earlier work. I’m guessing you’ll do the same after “Just Begun” washes over you.
Highlights abound, with Sun shinning brightest on the title track, “The Sky is Smiling,” “Just My Size,” Take That Wander,” “Like Water in the Desert,” It’s Good to See You,” “El Coyote” and “Long Day.” With his mellow vibe and ear-pleasing baritone, Sun is the real deal. Sorry it took me so long to realize that.
"Just Begun, title of the disc, is also the affirmation of a great man who has not finished to surprise and enchant us."
" ... stripped-back, slightly twangy evocative Americana set that is a delight from start to end."
"... entrancingly melodic ... panoramic ... wryly nostalgic ... thoughtful ... laid-back twangy."
" ... highly recommended."
"Just begun" is a passionate album by a guy called Forest Sun. Even though the album is rootsy Americana, I nearly crashed my car and ended in a coma. He has that special gift. There's raw sexuality, gutbucket blues and gritty rock. A must-buy album!"
"Just Begun is a slick album that can’t fail to excite!!!"
"It’s a nice breath of fresh air." (read more)
"Just Begun" is a celebration of how to do an album with brilliance." (read more)
As usual, he writes songs that may seem harmless but if you listen more closely, there's a guy with an opinion behind the facade ... a wider recognition in the Americana community is long overdue." (read more)
"Earth Child. The Americana Folk singer is deepening his connection between his music and Mother Earth." (read more)
"Forest Sun is a San Francisco based singer/songwriter. His music comes in on breezy rhythm and sun-warmed vocals. The songs bring smiles and nods of understanding. On his most recent release, Just Begun, Forest Sun lets the title track open up and spread sunshine, urging listeners to keep on, taking the world as an example of moving forward under stress and strife. He advises us to let the day that passes change your point of view to find the desire to “go on, on and on".
Just Begun spends a day in the sun (“The Sky Is Smiling”), encourages to get on up, get out and not get stuck (“Take That Wander”), soundtracks the footfalls of nature with instrumental sounds (“El Coyote”) and talks of past trouble and the experiences offered by the world around us (“Nostalgic Blue”). Forest Sun wraps his words in soft folk with subtle influences from country and rock."
(About Just Begun) "Another batch of whimsy from Forest Sun the philosopher-singer. In each of our lives, we take turns setting ourselves up for disappointment or joy, but often we misunderstand the results. These songs may not offer answers yet, but they will help clarify our intentions. I like Forest’s messages, his lyrics, and his groove. He fits right in with the Folk Alley sound."
"Very much enjoyed Forest Sun's new release."
"After listening to the album a few times, my favorite tracks have to be the title track "Just Begun," "Nostalgic Bells," "It's Good to See You," and "El Coyote."
"Just Begun" is a fun song with a catchy sing-along hook in the chorus. "Nostalgic Bells" strips down the instrumentals and leaves you to focus on Forest Sun and his words. His voice has a Jack Johnson attitude complimented by a David Gray style of lyricism: reserved yet observant.
The end of "Nostalgic Bells" is one of my favorites as Forest begins a chant reminiscent of John Lennon's protest songs ("All I ask is why..."). "It's Good to See You" takes you inside Forest Sun's home as he welcomes you as a close friend, no matter who you are and where you have been. Finally, "El Coyote" flexes Forest's instrumental muscle with horn accompaniment that pulls the entire track together nicely.
Overall, this is a great album to listen to. You feel as though you are growing with Forest in mind and body. You can also see just how much Forest Sun himself has grown is his music."
"The road leading up to Forest Sun's latest album "Just Begun" has been paved with some outstanding previous albums. With "Just Begun" Forest has entered a new musical road. A familiar road but one with a few twists and turns which make theride all the more interesting. This guy has indeed 'just begun' to show us what he's capable of."
"We ask a lot from today’s songwriting minstrels – a catchy melody, a rhythm section which creates energy, but doesn’t overshadow the singer, and words that provoke and inspire. Forest Sun delivers in all these areas and his songs fit right into our mix, both in sound and message. I can’t imagine how I overlooked him until now."
"Coming from San Francisco's Bay Area, it seems only right and fitting that Forest Sun's music should be of a relaxed and sunny disposition. He generally plays gigs with just himself, his acoustic guitar and his sidekick Ingrid Serban to provide the sweetest backing vocals. For this recording there's not a whole lot added to the sound, really, or perhaps I should say that for the most part the addition of drums, keyboards and bass manage to enhance his sound without fundamentally changing it.`Occasionally a cello comes in strongly to give some sombre depth to the music but mostly it's Forest Sun's own fine style on the acoustic guitar that defines things. He plays like a real folkie, able to pick notes, strum chords and slap the strings or the box (sometimes, it seems, all simultaneously) - ever conscious of the thread of music in his head but always, somehow, at ease and relaxed.
Forest seems to be one of those fortunate people (and I reckon they generally live in benign climates) who carries an air of unworried, unflustered ease with him and this is carried into his music. His songs flow easily and beautifully even when dealing with serious and poignant subject matter. Comparisons are apparently made with Jack Johnson, which is fair enough up to a point; he certainly sings with a genial smile in his voice a lot of the time. I feel there's a bit more meat on the bones with Forest Sun though; there are echoes of Paul Simon and 60s American folk and to be honest I can't quite put my finger on why this appeals to me rather more than , say, Jack Johnson's approach. Maybe it feels more thought through - lyrically and musically - and altogether more serious of intent. Maybe it's just an age thing.
Anyway, it's no real surprise in the context of his own songs that his one cover here is Dylan's 'She Belongs To Me'. It's a very fine version, too, slightly slower and more soulful than Dylan's original and with Forest's band making a lovely sound not a million miles away from The Band. This song probably gets about the fullest sound of anything on the album but then Forest closes off with the quiet beauty of 'Your Horizon', just his own warm singing and an acoustic guitar to bring out the warmth of fellow feeling in the lyric. It's one of those album closers that's enough to make you play the whole thing through again. 'Harlequin Goodnight' is altogether a quiet joy in a raucous world."
"This cat has what it takes to make a mark… Sun's music is timeless… as fine a singer/songwriter record as is out there."
"Forest Sun is now my favorite new singer-songwriter.
I had never heard of him, even though he has seven solo albums out on his own Painted Sun Records. How did this talented guy fall though the cracks? I'm not even sure how to describe his music because it incorporates elements of folk, pop, rock, Caribbean music, Cajun, jazz, country and blues. Did I leave anything out?
Artists that he recalls include Ryan Adams, Jack Johnson, John Gorka, Todd Snider, even Van Morrison and Lyle Lovett. But I think it's more of an attitude; his songs are jaunty, timeless and spirit raising, even life-affirming.
And he even has a children's album 'Just for Fun' - 'a children's album that the parents will love.' And it's true. Try to get the song "Trampoline" out of your head after just one listen. Can't do it."
"The lyrics from the song "Be Kind to You" are like virtual crack to me.
(...) Sun's songs are upbeat odes to the road and honest meditations on love. Bridging the mundane with the life-changing in his lyrical approach. Sun sings in a laid-back, shady porch style, backed by instrumentation that floats effortlessly from folk to country to pop."
"Lilting, gorgeously orchestrated hybrids of bluegrass, gospel, and folk, all in support of Sun's rich throwback croon."
"Sometimes a nondescript CD from an unfamiliar artist shows up in the WW offices in a plain plastic clamshell case, devoid of any packaging or promotional material. What's much more rare is when the sounds that rise out of said disc emerge with a fully formed musical vision and immediately resonate soulful authenticity and an effortless cool. Believe me, I don't lightly invoke Van Morrison's name, but that's whose early work came to mind when I first heard Forest Sun, along with more recent reverences like Chris Whitely and Shawn Mullins. It's not every winter's day that a Sun comes up to Portland from down California way/ I, for one, welcome the opportunity to bask in this one's warm glow."
"There are times when one positively reels at the gross injustices in the world --- poverty, hunger, Middle Eastern tomfoolery, war, reality TV, natural disasters, and the fact that Dave Matthews gets gobs of fawning press and the adoration of fans everywhere while Forest Sun toils under relative obscurity. Who? Exactly. But you read it here first: PLENTY, Sun's newest album, is on eof the best CDs of the year, and no, it really doesn't matter that we're only halfway through the year. Forest Sun (his real name) is a San Francisco based singer/songwriter who others in the press have compared favorably to Jack Johnson, Ben Harper, and Van Morrison. But the comparisons generally end there, as if that were enough. It's not. Sun is all that and a bowl of gravy. By blending soul, blues, jazz, gospel, and a touch of 20th centure "Americana," Forest Sun has managed to carve out a niche that is uniquely his, one which sounds remarkably like all of the above (and a little Keb'Mo' added to the mix) without the unsettling feeling that he's copping others' licks. His is a style of naked, earnest sincerity, with the kind of soul-baring lyrics one expects of someone at least a generation older. What's more, Forest Sun is the consumate musician. Sophomore effort PLENTY features him on -- among other instruments-- both acoustic and electric guitars, mandolin, harmonica, and organ; meanwhile, sidemen perform on upright bass, tabla, and sarod. It's an album that simultaneously explores and bends -- and ultimately blurs the lines between -- seemingly disparate genres with ease. But PLENTY isn't just fodder for music geeks (though one could spend hours dissecting it)/ nor is it merely a vehicle for jam-based virtuosity. Rather, it's a singular marriage of lyric beauty and inimitable craftsmanship; a wholly organic work of musical art. If you can't catch Forest Sun and his band live (and, quite frankly, some sort of invasive surgery might be the only legitimate excuse), then at the very least buy PLENTY. Right now. Then immediately drop to your knees and thank the good Lord that musicians like Sun still exist."
"Harlequin Goodnight, one of two new albums by Forest Sun, demonstrates his evolution as a singer-songwriter, as its content speaks to anyone who’s had some genuine life experience. Forest’s resonant voice, lacking any hint of pretension, steers each tune through it’s emotional landscape with a firm hand—from charmingly honest “Be Kind” through the heartbreaking title track. At times deceptively simple, often the sentiment of each song resonates as so universally true that one almost misses the sophisticated lyrics within. Fortunately this album is difficult to tire of, and its appeal to a range of moods ensures you’ll keep on listening."
"I love your CD, and am grateful you gave me a chance to look into your eclectic abilities. Stay well...keep a good heart and loads of conviction. You sure have the talent to back it up."
"Forest Sun is 'one of the finest' in the Marin music community."
"I met Forest during the Tibetan Freedom concert in Amsterdam Holland. I was introduced buy the promoters of the whole show. I was a camera operator who got stuck filming a three-hour outdoor concert without a tripod. Forest helped me wrangle cable for the first few acts then excused him self. To my surprise he appeared on stage to perform a short set. It was fantastic. As a person, he is humble, and straightforward, his music tells stories that immediately deliver you to a highly reflective state. He is a truly talented and very special musician. Give him a chance, let yourself go, you won't regret it."
"Forest Sun's music is full of life—real life, that is. It is joyful, but also poignant, upbeat and at the same time deep and soulful. His cd is a must-have, but a live performance is even better."
"Maybe the thing not to do when listening to Forest Sun's new record "Plenty" is bother yourself trying to trace the dazzling, sometimes dizzying array of musical genres and traditions mined and ingeniously woven throughout this collection of songs. It's tempting to do, and some folks will certainly succumb to their inner music-geek and make the attempt. If so, they'll have to be on pretty good terms with most of the American music made in the dearly departed 20th century, and have a good bit of international know-how to boot. I think Mr. Sun would agree with me when I say that this sort of exhaustive musicology isn't really the point. Although Forest is a stunning multi-instrumentalist with deep-rooted command over a variety of instruments and styles that find their way onto this record (see the mournful delta slide-guitar of "Plenty" or the irresistible, Latin tinged guitar-hook of "Alchemy" ) he is a songwriter and composer first, and brings his command of so many genres and manifold chops to bare only in service of his songs… there's no jam-band, chops-for-chops sake noodling to be found on "Plenty." Luckily, Forest has enough soul and unaffected, emotional honesty in his song-writing to hold his patchwork of styles happily together.Forest has been compared to Lyle Lovett, Taj Mahal and Ricki Lee Jones among others, and those comparisons seem well-founded, not so much because he sounds much like any of them, but more for an ethic they share -- that each song is an entirely distinct vessel and that it's the songwriter's job to have a broad enough musical palette to fit the peculiar emotional demands of a given "story." Hence, the joyous, clarinet (clarinet!) propelled, speakeasy romp of "My Queen" is absolutely right for the winking, light comedy of the tune, just as greasy Hammond B-3 pads and rock-steady, R&B drumming perfectly buoy the triumphant (and chart-ready) melody of "No Anchor." Special mention must be made of the Indian spiced guitar line that snakes through " Wishing Well," and the exquisite Tabla playing that complements this brooding, ambitious song. Again, though, this is not a "my grandparents went to New Delhi and all they got me was this lousy sitar so I guess I'll use it on my record" moment. Hearing the tune, you automatically can't imagine any other instruments serving as the musical bedding for it's melancholic, hard-gained wisdom. With "Plenty," Forest Sun has achieved a marriage that seems to elude many chasing a similar laurel: that of first-rate, lyrical musicianship and a batch of songs that are damn well worth such heady playing."
"What a tranquil delivery of this treasure of a song. Aside from it being well recorded and tastefully mixed, these two achieve an exquisite pairing vocally that instantly makes the world a better place."
"Forest Sun is the real thing. His songs are life affirming and joyful and you can only do that as a songwriter when it's a genuine expression of your heart."
"This Bay area singer/songwriter tromps through Uniontown like a true vagabond - carrying the heart of music in his knapsack - roots, jazz, folk, gospel, soul and speakeasy blues."
"There's a powerful intersect between our own blessed American musical roots and a new spirit-path a-borning all about us. Forest Sun's music is right there on the overlap, getting it just about perfectly. He knows it's not enough for music to just lift spirits, you've got to point in the right direction too. This is music you always wanted someone to make--down-home and Out There & maybe get up and dance around a little too!"
"Forest Sun once again proves he is not only capable of writing fine new tunes but that he is a man who knows where he's coming from. He seems to have one foot in the future and the other firmly planted in his roots. His voice carries a quiet intensity and a warmth that disarms the listener, while the songs seem fresh and familiar all at the same time. Music played on real instruments by real people...refreshing to say the least...f^%ing great record... and you can quote me."
"Sun's recent album is one of the most sincere and enjoyable albums I have heard in a long time… a mature collection of good songs, sensational performances, and an overall enjoyable atmosphere. I've had the CD in my player for two weeks now and I suspect it will remain there for many weeks to come!"
"I recently caught Forest Sun and his lovely chanteuse Ingrid at Room 5 in LA. And I'm here to tell you that if you're in the market for an extraordinarily well rounded evening of musical entertainment, look no further. Engaging melodies, lyrics that careen from playful to thoughtful and back again, note-perfect yet inviting vocals, backed by playing that's as accomplished as it is nuanced -- this twosome delivers."
"Y'all. It is the soundtrack of this season."
"Five stars! As festival promotors, one of top three CD's we've received in 5 years! Even with dozens of demo CD's and promotional packages coming in from all over the country, this one stood out so prominently that we both knew immediately that we'd be willing to pay Forest Sun and his band to fly across the country to play at our little music festival in the Pine Barrens of South Jersey. We ordered 9 more CD's and distributed them to family, friends and a couple of local DJ's, because we're so sure of his universal appeal."
"Here is an honest artist ...beautiful lyrics, straight-forward, willing to put it all on the line. Nice, easy rhythms, many with a great twist, all backing lyrics that show why the indie artists are always the ones with the straightest message. The ones that speak truths that will endure our lifetimes and beyond."
"Worldly singer songwriter brings the Americana home."
"I'd say the future of quality music is in good hands. I highly recommend Forest Sun and his band!"
"The music of Forest sun radiates warmth and enthusiasm. It catches. You can't possibly listen to his music without feeling good. I have had the good fortune of presenting Forest Sun and his music to the listeners of my radio show, "In The Spirit." Pick up and listen to any one of his many CDs and go for a joyride."
"I was just messing around on garageband.com & came across your music. Just upon listening to a few snippets I could already tell that I would love the entire cd. There are very few artists that produce a cd worthy enough to be able to listen to every song over & over, but I have a feeling that you are one of the lucky ones. You have a very soulful, bluesy sound. It reminds me of a one of those moments when life is so wonderful it's almost indescribable & rarely do you even realize it until the moment is over. I guess I'm just trying to say that your music has substance & soul. You have a new fan. I will definitely spread the news."
"Forest Sun's songs are like paintings where the music is the frame and his voice and lyrics the actual painting. You are all familiar with those paintings that keep getting your attention. As soon as the last accords of the final piece have subsided you want the cd to continue and the next song to start. Tip, put your player on repeat!"
"I Love this CD! I wasn't even on a trampoline and I was smiling!"
"On Forest Sun's 'Harlequin Goodnight,' there are ten songs he wrote himself and Dylan's 'She Belongs to Me.' Still Sun combines folk just as easily with influences from pop music as from country. Thus, "This Lightning" contains a musical reference to the Kinks' 'Dedicated Flower of Fashion.'
In his at the same time catchy and rootsy melodies Sun does not only sing, he also plays the guitar, the piano, wurlitzer and drums. Friends on dobro, cello, accordion and background vocals even enrich them. In them the melancholy atmosphere dominates over Sun's by no means small craftsmanship."
"In nine songs Forest Sun offers a crash sourse in roots music on his seventh cd, especially aimed at children: his own Trampoline merges seamlessly with the eight classic children’s songs that he changes into reggae, funk, calypso, country and folk.
Because they are practically unknown in Europe, it doesn’t strike you when listening that this cd was made for a youthful targetgroup. Furthermore Sun and occasional friends don’t make any stylistic concessions, so that the only 37 minuten long CD is a exemplary sample card of roots styles."
"The first Forest Sun song I first heard was No Regrets and my only regret is not having discovered this artist sooner. His music has a way of connecting the deepest emotions with the everyday us while reminding all, like a breath of fresh air, that good still remains. A poetic landscape that takes the listener from southern hometown sunsets to the crisp pacific coast crest and back again. His music brings smiles and comfort to adults and little ones alike.
And with him he brings the lovely Ingrid Serban whose voice stirs emotion with a gentle grace. While at a music festival with a friend recently, we were walking along a moonlight riverbank searching for their show. If it hadn’t been for the subtle siren voice of Ingrid calling us through the swaying pine trees along the water, we may have never found their stage. Ingrid’s voice is both enchanting and calming perhaps best accompanied under a night sky full of stars. As both Forest and Ingrid are sure to find their place."
"Fortunately, Forest Sun put out an album entitled Just For Fun, Songs for Little Ones that is enjoyable for parents as well as kids. My favorite track is the catchy Trampoline."
"I am still profoundly happy with Forest Sun. I've tried to branch out, even revisit some old favorites, but I . . . I keep coming back."
"Forest Sun brings new life to tried and true classics, like the Jerry Lee Lewis –style piano based “Polly Wally Doodle”, and an island “Hush Little Baby” that would make a Jimmy Buffet fan proud!"