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Trop Rock CD Review: Sunny Jim “Rum Shoes”

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Rum Shoes album cover created by Sunny Jim’s daughter, Hallie White.

He’s done it again! Award winning singer/songwriter and talented musician, James “Sunny Jim” White releases his 10th Trop Rock album titled Rum Shoes.

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Sunny Jim accepts wins 4 awards at the 2014 TRMA Awards.

Sunny Jim’s Rum Shoes Album

An enjoyable blend of island sounds from Reggae, Hawaiian and Calypso to a little Country and Surfer Rock, it’s a real tropical oasis flowing from the speakers. To me, Sunny Jim has a distinctive signature style (several of them actually) and Rum Shoes hits each one plus new sounds and great stories.

Hawaiian Love
The album opens with “Mikala,” a modern Hawaiian influenced song about lost love. Sunny Jim’s lyrics hit all your senses evoking the sounds, tastes, smells and stunning views of Hawaii mixed with feelings of longing for a woman he still hears in his dreams. Although the topic of missing your love is heavy, this song keeps a steady beat, showcases a captivating guitar solo and the music feels uplifting. Including Michelle Becker, Trop Rock singer/songwriter, on background vocals is a delicious compliment to this sentimental ballad.

Rum Drinking (Sunny Jim really loves rum, doesn’t he?)
The title track “Rum Shoes” is lyrically entertaining, clever and classic Sunny Jim. The grove will have you up dancing and pointing to your shoes, especially if you stumble! The story line follows a fellow getting off work, ditching those Italian loafers for his “worn out pair of dock shoes.” Soon he’s navigating the rum drinks and watering holes on foot around his “bar-muda triangle.”  Most of us can relate to this rum fun song and I fully expect fans to create a trademark dance to this one!

Introspective
Maybe because it is raining as I listen to this song, but “The Zen of Rain” is the track I love the most on Rum Shoes. A catchy intro, the music is warm and Sunny Jim’s vocals are soothingly melodic. It’ll give you a new perspective and appreciation of nature’s rain storms. Sunny Jim encourages you to “let your mind wash clean” and cherish life’s moments, which are often brief. You’ll feel at peace listening to “The Zen of Rain” (click play!)

 

Funny Island Culture
Would it be a Sunny Jim album without a song to make you laugh? I think not.

“Get On De Bus!” captures life as it can only happen in the islands. I’ve seen some quirky island culture moments and I completely believe Sunny Jim when he says this is a true story. If you ever get the chance to spend time on an island (not a day trip from your cruise ship) expect moments like this one. Island life is often about the mishaps, lack of new technologies and how you deal with them.  Sunny Jim encountered one of those moments while in Tobago. His visual writing makes it easy to imagine the clunker used for local transportation and passengers chanting “push start the bus” as they finally move towards their destination.

True Love
Another highlight for me is the island Reggae love song “Out of My Depth.”  True love overtakes this “wanderer” when he meets the right girl. His love goes deeper than he knew he possible. The steel pans shine on this record and the lyrics express the deepest of deep love with “out of my depth, what a lovely way to go.” Shouldn’t all love stories feel like that?

Out of the Rat Race
The final track “Stay Cool, Surf!” is a Trop Rock theme with a slight Surfer Rock sound about finding happiness when leaving a corporate job to follow your passion. The song follows the lives of Chuck and Tammy from their teenage years to where Sunny Jim imagines they ended up. Where did Sunny Jim get the idea for this story?

Stay Cool Surf almost wrote itself. I was jogging in Orlando and saw all those things written in the cement sidewalk. I started to wonder what had happened to the kid who wrote it back in 1987. I hope he ended up happy with Tammy, and is still surfing.”

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And More
Rum Shoes showcases 4 more tunes Sunny Jim fans will relish. “Gimme da ‘Ting” and “Dashboard Hula Girl” are two cover songs with a Sunny Jim flare. I adore “Dashboard Hula Girl” with it’s jazzy overtones in this cute escape-from-real-life song with the lovely dancing hula doll. “Afterglow” and “Phoenix Moon” are both graceful original ballads adding to the mix of rhythms on the album.

Flying Monkeys Make a Comeback
And for this Sunny Jim fan, I’m excited there’s now a dual purpose to bringing my lanky stuffed monkey to the live shows!

For years, we’ve all been tossing stuffed monkeys around for 3 plus minutes to Sunny Jim’s “Monkey Party” song. These fan moments helped inspire his new song “Flying Monkeys” which brings The Wizard of Oz into the analogy of marriage. It’s funny. It’s cute. And there will be monkeys everywhere.

Please… hold tightly to your drink. Inevitably, a flying monkey knocks over a full Rum Jumbie.

You’re going to love it! Grab your copy of Rum Shoes at Sunny Jim’s website

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