Songs From the Acid Folk

   
 

The Songs From the Acid Folk album, released 1991
CD reissued by SiWan Records March, 2000, and Market Square Records February, 2002

Two New Acid Folk album reviews: Rambles and Powys

Following the demise of Curved Air in late 1976, singer Sonja Kristina embarked on an eventful solo career. Her first solo band, Escape, was a hard-rocking outfit similar to Curved Air in their "Air Cut" period. The only recorded legacy of this group, the album "Sonja Kristina," appeared on a small UK label called Chopper Records in 1980. A very limited run of albums were made, along with a slighly larger number of the "St. Tropez/Mr. Skin" picture-sleeve single. Sonja feels that the recording was made after the band had peaked and it is not her favorite piece of work. Personally, I find several of the songs rank among her best, including the gorgeous "Full Time Woman."

After a brief Curved Air reunion with Darryl Way in 1984, Sonja formed a new live band called Tunis. The band was just as rocky as Escape had been, and a number of songs off the Chopper LP were included in their repertoire. The band also performed her solo 12" single from 1985, a reworking of "Walk on By." The single was apparently only sold at Tunis gigs.

Another period of musical inactivity followed, her time being filled with being a mother to her two young sons. However, unable to stay away from performing for too long, Sonja resurfaced in 1989. She discovered some new and exciting musical things happening in London at clubs like the Troubadour, the Crypt, and Club Dog. Having returned to her folk roots with a new ensemble which she dubbed, "Sonja Kristina with TY-LOR and Friends," she began playing an original, fiery form of acoustic music she referred to as "acid folk." TY-LOR was brother duo Tim and Simon Whitaker on acoustic guitar and percussion. The Friends were cellist Ali McKenzie, violinist Paul Silas, and a bassist known as Honk. The band toured extensively and the gigs were well-received. In particular, they got rave reviews for their Reading Festival performance.

She took time out from touring for a pair of Curved Air reunion concerts in 1990. A recording of one of these has in fact just been released on CD, as "Alive, 1990." Following this short reunion, Sonja's band went into the studio to record an album of the material they'd been playing live. A promotional single was released, featuring the old Curved Air hit "Back Street Luv" done acid-folk style, backed with a re-recorded version of "Colder Than a Rose" from her first LP. A second single of Sonja's compositions, "Anna/Devil May Care" was released shortly thereafter. "Anna" followed in the footsteps of a number of Curved Air songs, "Melinda (More or Less),""The Purple Speed Queen," "Orange Street Blues," and "Midnight Wire"among them, all dealing with the trials and pains of addiction and withdrawal.

The new album, "Songs From the Acid Folk," was released in 1991 to critical acclaim. The original recording included twelve acoustic workouts and featuring the aforementioned Curved Air classic, "Melinda (More or Less)," which the band had been playing live. Two other pieces from her first album were given new life as well, "Man He Colour" and the wonderful "Rollercoaster." Many of the songs on the album, such as "This Is Not a Sanctuary," "If This Was Love" and "One to One" are extremely personal and soul-baring, giving the listener a view into Sonja's psyche only hinted at in her previous work.

Korean Si-Wan Records has reissued the recording in an exquisite package, complete with a lovely slipcover and a marvelous booklet which is crammed full of photos, reviews, and memorabilia, along with the complete lyrics to the songs. The recordings have been remastered and are extraordinarily crisp and clean. Two versions of the "Back Street Luv" promo single have been added as bonus tracks, along with the beautiful "Penumbra," which had been left off the original record. This CD is a must-have, not only for Curved Air fans and devotees of Sonja's solo work, but for anyone who appreciates fine songwriting, excellent musicianship, and warm, beautiful vocals.

  • Anna (Sonja Kristina)
  • Devil May Care (Sonja Kristina)
  • Melinda (More or Less) (Sonja Kristina)
  • Man He Colour (Sonja Kristina)
  • This Is Not a Sanctuary (Sonja Kristina)
  • Colder Than a Rose (Paul Travis/Norma Tager)
  • If This Was Love (Sonja Kristina)
  • Rollercoaster (Sonja Kristina)
  • One to One (Sonja Kristina)
  • Buccaneer (Sonja Kristina)
  • Who Was Hunter (Sonja Kristina)
  • Citadel (Sonja Kristina)

    CD Bonus Tracks:

  • Back Street Luv
  • Back Street Luv (echo vocal mix)
  • Penumbra

    Personnel

  • Sonja Kristina -- Vocals, Acoustic Guitar, Accordion
  • Tim Whitaker -- Acoustic Guitar, Vocals
  • Simon Whitaker -- Drums, Steel Drums, Percussion
  • Paul Sax -- Violin
  • Honk -- Bass
  • Ali McKenzie -- Cello

    Produced by Graeme Holdaway with Sonja Kristina and Ty-lor;
    recorded at The Beat Factory & Worried Rabbit Studios;
    A single, "Anna/Devil May Care" was released from the album;
    A promotional single was also released featuring the non-LP cut "Back Street Luv."
    Visit the TY-LOR Website

    A flyer from Sonja's Acid Folk tour

    Sonja with Ty-lor and Friends Live

    Sonja with Ty-lor

    Sonja with Ty-lor and Friends

    Sonja & Ali McKenzie

    Ty-lor and Friends promo photo