If you ever wondered what the coolest advantages of being born and raised on a commune-like hippie settlement, let multi-faceted (pop, rock, blues, soul, et al) singer-songwriter Cosmos Sunshine’s life and music be a primer. You get to be born with a name so hip and out there that the first and middle name you use for your professional moniker almost seem made up (his last name is Heidtmann).
More importantly, taking a ride from your digs on the Connecticut River, your parents will take you to events like the Summer Jam Festival at Watkins Glen, NY where your musical sensibilities are shaped by absorbing the expansive rock-centered genius of The Allman Brothers Band, The Grateful Dead and The Band. One of his fondest memories at home was listening to his parents’ 70’s-esque “vibey, acoustic, singer/songwriter music” – and he taps into that warm, soulful intimacy on “The Dreamsong,” the ambient, acoustic guitar driven opening track on his third full length album The Way is Clear.
Then, as if taking us on the wild rockin’ rollercoaster of his career, he snaps us out of our cool calm with the electric blues blast of “Riverland” and playful, punchy old school, piano pounding and guitar fired blistering rock jam “U Muze Me!” Sunshine offers the same sort of stylistic zig-zag throughout, balancing the tightly woven moody electric power ballad “A Song For Neal” with the trippy, vocal harmony laden jam band styled “Against the Wall” and darker, dreamier reflections along the lines of “Ode to Pain” (featuring the haunting flute harmonies of Mayu Saeki) and classically tinged Leonard Cohenesque “Autumn in the Rain.”
It’s hard to know if one of Cosmos’ most compelling songs, the moody and brooding, post Sgt Pepper Beatlesque rock-blues ballad “2020 Vision” was written as a collective ode/reflection of this crazy year or as a personal breakthrough, but no matter it’s intentions, it’s pure hypnotic pop-rock genius. Also of note, there is no actual track on this nine-tune collection called “The Way is Clear” – but the optimism inherent in the album title should inspire some open minded listening as we long for a brighter day.
Just as Sunshine enjoyed getting lost in the woods as a child, he invites us to get lost in a musical vision that, whether he’s imparting dark wisdom or pure whimsy, knows no boundaries.