There are only a few words to describe “Sonni Shine and The Underwater Sounds”. Smooth, buttery and reggae. Sonni Schwartzbach, Kenny Shumski, Sean Youngman and Billy Campion have created such a yummy sound it’s no wonder their last headlining show at World Café Live in Philadelphia sold out. Sonnies’ voice is hypnotic and lilting, creating the feeling of swelling waves over the warm sounds of her band mates.
Sonni started out as a solo artist playing acoustic sets when she met Sean, a session drummer, while recording. After realizing they could create something great together, Sean recruited his long time friend Kenny to play bass. Billy jumped into the mix when he and Sonni became roommates and she found out he played guitar. The band was complete.
I asked Sonni where her sound came from.
“ My mom always listened to soul and Motown,” Sonni said “Then I started listening to Sublime and Bob Marley when I was 11 or 12.”
As in most cases, the members of Sonni Shine and The Underwater Sounds have different musical influences ranging from Progressive rock to the Grateful Dead. You can hear some of those influences on their new album Que Se Queda, a mixture of reggae and pop with spurts of psychedelic guitar licks here and there. The first track “You Got Me” is a perfect example of all of their different sounds. Throwing us off even more is the title track “Que Se Quesda,” in which Sonnie goes right into Spanish without a second’s hesitation. Every song has such a great flow and energy and Sonnies’ deep voice draws you in more and more with each note she sings. One of my favorites, “Dream They Say” begins with great soul that escalates with every saxophone solo. Then as that song ends, we drift into ‘Warrior’ and you start to wonder if perhaps all of these songs are your favorites.
This album is a must have for 2012 and if you love it and want to catch Sonni and The Underwater Sounds, they will be at the Hard Rock Café March 20th. I’m sure they will get a lot of heads out for that show so keep your ears open for tickets. . As Sonnie told me about this past sold out show, “It was like a dream state. You could really feel the love and support.” So keep the love flowing and check these guys out locally before they move on to being an internationally known super group.