Music Discovery: Sunny War, ‘No Reason’

“You’re an angel, you’re a demon,” sings Nashville artist Sunny War on her new single “No Reason.” It’s a sentiment that she admits has “no rhyme” and “no reason,” but there it is anyway. Because we all have a little of both, right?

“I feel like there are two sides of me,” War says. “One of them is very self-destructive, and the other is trying to work with that other half to keep things balanced.”

You hear that balancing act in her music – the lively, upbeat “No Reason,” which wrestles with that good vs. evil conundrum, but also in her earlier songs (she has three previous albums and a recording career that dates back nearly a decade).

There’s something about “No Reason,” though, that is honest and direct. It moves quickly – at only 2-1/2 minutes, it’s gone before you know it – but it leaves a lasting impression. The melody is easy to listen to, but it leaves a burn.

Maybe it’s the draw of ’80s rock and punk. “When I was a kid, I was obsessed with AC/DC, and I loved dramatic ‘80s guitar bands like Motley Crüe,” she says. “Later, I was obsessed with Bad Brains, the Minutemen, and X.”

But as much punk attitude as you can hear in a song like “No Reason,” there’s also a solid grounding in something rootsier. Though even that isn’t ‘traditional’ per se. “I don’t really make music with a traditional roots audience in mind,” she says. “I like weird music, outsider music, like Daniel Johnston and Roky Erickson.” 

It’s a lot to digest. It’s complex, but it’s not. And maybe what all the seeming contradiction leads us to is that War and her music aren’t easy to pigeonhole. Which is, when you think about it, what makes her music so compelling. Because isn’t that the reality of being human? As War says, “Everybody is a beast just trying their hardest to be good.”

sunny war anarchist gospel album cover art

War’s upcoming album, Anarchist Gospel, is due out in early 2023. And considering it’s produced by Andrija Tokic (Alabama Shakes, Hurray For The Riff Raff) and features guest spots from the likes of Jim James, Allison Russell, Chris Pierce, and David Rawlings, there’s a good chance you’ll hear a lot more of about Sunny War in the months (and years) to come.

Anarchist Gospel track list:

01 “Love’s Death Bed”
02 “No Reason”
03 “Shelter And Storm”
04 “I Got No Fight”
05 “Swear To Gawd”
06 “Earth”
07 “New Day”
08 “Baby Bitch”
09 “His Love”
10 “Hopeless”
11 “Higher”
12 “Test Dummy”
13 “Sweet Nothing”
14 “Whole”