“It was before Covid, I had this big free empty studio in the hills, I was supposed to be painting, that was my initial plan, and I just began making songs on an old guitar, songs about being alone, songs about failed men, some dark tales of longing. I was reading some old western paperbacks, and I would go on these walks in the hills, come inside and write these kind of lonesome country songs. Then the pandemic began, and everyone was alone now, and it felt like it had been strangely prescient to write about being alone” Smith speaks about the birth of this record.
It sounds like it's part of a genre that should have happened: a sixties teen country music that merged with sixties pop. New Day with New Possibilities, the latest 'country' offering by Sonny And The Sunsets, is clearly a companion piece to the cult loved third Sunsets release Longtime Companion, the laid back country record which marked the beginning of the Sunsets as an explorative project and not just locked into one sound. New Day With New Possibilities joins with a kind of Michael Hurley home grown sound but also leaning into Chelsea Girls baroque strings sound as on Driftin’ and The Lonely Men. Pedal Steel maestro Joe Goldmark lifts the record into Doug Sahm and Buck Owens territory.
As much as the music ushers in a laid-back country feeling, the lyrics are where this album depart. "Lonely Men," a Bill Calahan-ish dry observational take, is a searing damnation of broken men who cannot find the capacity to fully love. Lyrically Smith sets the goals high, "Earl and His Girl"and "Ride the Dark Trail" both sound like William Burroughs wrote a Louis L'amour style Western paperback: "Looks like I’m fat but I’m tough as new rubber, I heard you chose your last rancho cause he’s rough, But, I am rougher, My boots may be full of mud, I have no bullets for my gun, But if you want to come, We can ride the trail together" a love poem of sorts, with subtle connects the song to the late David Berman. 'Heartbreak is my obsession/I teach the school of rejection...I’m on the board of depression/and I’m up for re-election', he sings during "Love Obsession," lyrics that sound like they could have sailed out of Hank Williams. “I didn’t make any paintings at the studio, the time I was at the studio just turned into music, music, music, and these empty canvasses just sat in a corner, which is great, which is perfect. Seems like when I set out to do something really specific, it just fails to start, and I realize my ego isn’t really steering things… stuff comes out from the deep inside and knocks me around and tells me who’s really in charge, re-orients me to a new possibility.”