Living to love and loving life, worry won’t be my nine-to-five, Avery*Sunshine sings on “Time to Shine” over a Motown-style shuffle, her glowing alto tones buoyed by a jangling tambourine and chiming orchestra bells. Optimism oozes from all twelve songs on the Atlanta singer, pianist, and songwriter’s first widely distributed album. Her attitude remains positive even when she tells her man, You ain’t giving me a heart attack just because you don’t know how to act, on the bluesy “I Do Love You (You Ain’t Got to Lie).” The source of her joy comes into clear focus on the set-closing “Safe in His Arms,” an impassioned ode to God on which she works multi-octave, melisma-rich magic over her own acoustic piano accompaniment.
Avery*Sunshine and co-producer Dana Johnson draw on a variety of old-school flavors for this neo-soul masterpiece. Opener “Won’t You Try” borrows its groove and horn riffs from Willie Mitchell’s Memphis productions of the Seventies; the singer even quotes from Al Green’s “Love and Happiness” during the vamp. Her scat interludes on “See You When I Get There” suggests the influence of Minnie Riperton, and the raspy tone she uses on the Rhodes piano brings Stevie Wonder to mind. She and Johnson mix old ingredients in refreshing new ways, but vocal virtuosity alone places Avery*Sunshine in the top ranks of soul singers performing today. (Shanachie)