San Fran pop adventurers Sonny and the Sunsets recently released Longtime Companion, their "country" record, and it's a beaut. Rather than playing cornpone dress-up, Sonny Smith and crew add lilt and gospel soul—and yes, just a shade of twang—to a collection that's some of Smith's best material to date. (Considering this is the guy who wrote and recorded 200 songs, in the style of 100 different made-up bands, for an art project, that's saying something.)
Here's the video for album highlight "Pretend You Love Me," a low-key unassuming clip for an absolutely terrific song (which you can download here, and you will want to) that explores the psychedelic outer tinges of country. It starts with a lyrical reference to the Stills/Young Band's "Long May You Run" and goes off the rails from there, with keenly yearning pedal steel and LSD-tracer flutes. It's absolutely lovely.
The reason I mention all of this is because Sonny and the Sunsets will be at Pickathon this weekend. They play Friday at 6:00 pm on the Woods Stage, Saturday at 5:30 pm in the Galaxy Barn, and Sunday afternoon at 3:15 on the Mt. View Stage. I don't know if Smith was inspired to make Longtime Companion after playing Pickathon last year, but I like to think so. It's the perfect album for the perfectly pastoral festival; the Sunsets' new high-country-livin' style will fit right in.