introduction by tom johnson
track guide by laura colwell & stephen salisbury
photography by santiago dietche
A little further down this page, Sun June’s Laura Colwell and Stephen Salisbury define their music as: “spinning your wheels, missing the past, fearing the future, throwing your hands up“. Though the pair are talking specifically about ‘Everything I Had’, the second song on their mesmerising new album, it’s a handy encapsulation of their sound, or rather the sentiments that sit at its heart, drawn-out as you listen, as you sing quietly along.
Released last week, via Run For Cover and Keeled Scales, Somewhere is a wide-eyed but heavy-hearted, swinging gently between the dichotomies of life; of what’s ahead and what’s left behind. The band’s gorgeous folk-rock, so affecting on previous LP Years, finds new glimmer here, sitting evocatively between Colwell’s voice, itself carrying extra weight, new layers of shade.
From the expansive opening track, which nods – literally – to Jackie O, Patti Smith, Stevie Nicks, to the quiet sigh that brings it all to a close, Somewhere delivers some of the most affecting melodies we’ve heard in a long time. In this new track by track guide, Laura and Stephen walk us through the album, shining a little light on the stories behind the songs. Read their words here and stream the album below right now.
Bad with time
We heard a Jim James interview on KUT’s “This Song” podcast where he said, “I am bad with time.” Something about the phrase was funny and poignant, and it attached itself to a melody. The song ended up calling out some of our flaws. Stephen would like to think he is too cool for LA (he’s not) and Laura is bad with time. We’re all big fans of the song genre “going to LA” (like Neil Young’s “Out on the Weekend” or Amen Dunes’ “LA” or YACHT’s “Shangri-La”). This is our version of that song, except we’re just thinking about heading there.
Everything I had
This is about growing up (and old) and struggling to figure out how to progress. It feels very “Austin” to us — spinning your wheels, missing the past, fearing the future, throwing your hands up. This song fell into place pretty easily, Stephen was playing the chords at practice and Sarah immediately added the right beat. Michael added lots of guitar melodies that countered the main progression. Then we got to construct the ending entirely in the studio, which was fun — Laura did all the end piano in a single first take.
We live next to a Baptist church, and sometimes on Sundays we can hear singing from across the parking lot, beautiful choral stuff that feels completely divorced from our daily lives. We aren’t believers or church-goers, but it’s still powerful. We really wanted to lean into simplicity on this song, so it could mean a lot of things. For us it feels like it’s about living in the small and confined world a relationship creates, and experiencing things from within it. Relationships can be both lovely and tiresome bubbles, and so “I don’t want to fight, I just want to drive home” made us laugh.
Bad Girl is about a deep manic drive to regress into the person I used to be – back when being bad was cool and being cool was everything. I was given a lot of freedom as a teenager and always took advantage of it. After I lost a good friend in high school, my fear of death was overwhelming. The song reflects on how that fear combined with my own thrill-seeking affected my decisions since. It cycles through self-destructive choices I’ve made in relationships to avoid responsibility, and how my fear of loss has lead me down some dumb paths. The tone is sad and resigned, but also self-righteous somehow?
Karen O is one of the only songs we’ve written that takes place over the course of a single night. It’s kind of a composite of a bunch of experiences, but we hope we captured what it feels like when you’re completely worn out but can’t bring yourself to go home. Coming up with the song was pretty serendipitous: the verse melodies came to us when we heard the opening chords of a random song, and the outro melody came to us when we were reading an NPR music article.
Everywhere is mostly about a mental breakdown and how grief comes and goes. We tried to capture a moment of complete disconnect from reality, while searching for clarity within it. I love how Michael’s guitar swoops in and out, taking its time to distort a bit by the final refrain. This is one of the songs where we used scratch vocals — I sang along to the track in the studio’s living room while everyone was standing around, and we ended up using a lot of those takes.
Once in a while
We wrote this when we were in a very serious Kevin Morby phase, and so it started out a lot folkier. The song was written in about 10 minutes but it spurred a years-long battle to get it right. In the end everyone is dissatisfied for different reasons, so maybe it’s perfect? It again deals with the day-to-day of relationships and how the push and pull of needs and wants can be fueled by conflicting layers of dysfunction. Fun!
This was one of the first songs Laura wrote on guitar, and it has some adventurous chords that made Michael swoon. We still don’t know what they are. The breakthrough might have been when we realized we could take the chorus into a major chord progression at the end. It’s the closest we’ve gotten to a doo-wop feel.
This song came together pretty quickly. It’s a simple little song that in some ways exemplifies how we write. Even though it has some specific moments and images, it’s kind of about everything all at once. The band members each added their own parts to this song, and we recorded it live, everyone playing together, just like we recorded our first record. It’s got a looseness we hope serves the lyrics.
This song is a total frankenstein. We wrote the chorus a long time ago, and wrote the verses the day after Trump got elected. We were so depressed that we wrote a song trying to convince ourselves that things would be ok. It didn’t really help, and things are still not ok. Years later Michael (our lead guitarist) played us this beautiful instrumental song he wrote. We ended up combining all these disparate pieces and rewriting the words. Something entirely new emerged.
This vocal recording is from the original demo that I made at home. For months we thought we would add a chorus or an outro, but eventually we realized the song didn’t need anything else. We wanted to keep it simple while filling the track with air – there’s room noise and shoes shuffling. Sarah added the vibraphone and it blew us all away.
Somewhere is out now, via Run For Cover/Keeled Scales
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