Forest Sun ‘Harlequin Goodnight’
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.
Here they are on our own Medicine Show Stage at Belladrum Festival 2010