Laura Sumner’s vision of America has changed – the American Dream isn’t what it once was. Sumner’s new release, “American Man” echoes the frankness and the realness of a Bruce Springsteen-penned odyssey. “American Man”, an Americana single, showcases Sumner’s charismatic voice and a wealth of interesting storytelling. “American Man” is a sign-of-the-times, at times a hushed percussion and other times reliant on the steel guitar backbone. Sumner’s debut single is an impressive outing and an exciting preview to what’s to come from her 2022 album release. 


Intriguing voice aside, Sumner has a very easy-going vibe to this song. There is drama with the backing music, it builds a creative foundation as many great songs do. The chorus: In this land of freedom they say that you can have it all, but all the shops on Main Street are closing down their doors, remember when you used to buy me drinks, didn’t we own this town? and I was one of your biggest fans, American Man, American Man, congers up images of shuttered windows, calloused hands on the man sitting at the end of the bar. If one didn’t grow up in the city or live an urban life, these are scenes that feel at home in America’s Heartland. Sumner has a way of scattering those scenes across her guitar-bed, binding together the whole picture. 

“American Man” has a rhythm that sounds like it’s in the wheelhouse of Springsteen, Tom Petty and maybe even Bob Dylan. I like the way there’s a bit of a throwback sound, and you can tell that Sumner grew up listening to artists like Neil Young. The yearning in her voice, the sensitivity she shows in her song protagonists is admirable. You can also tell that she cut her live performance teeth in cafes and coffeehouses – it’s about the music, it’s about stripping the song down and getting right to the heart of the story. She accomplishes that and much more in this riveting track. “American Man” surprised me more about the way it made me feel connected and responsive to society as a whole. I became invested in the characters…they felt like real people. 

I think it’s also fair to say that even if you aren’t huddled up in a small town, and you are hitting the pavement in one of America’s largest cities, you see the same scenarios but in a different way. Sumner’s lyric – I was one of your biggest fans lingered for hours. I’ve thought of 12 interpretations on that line and I’m not confident in any of them. I think that’s what makes this song, and Sumner so special. Are we still rooting for an America that Sumner sings about? Does she really want it to be the way it was? I think news outlets and economy watchers will have their own opinions, but based on the optimistic guitar and the golden ribbons running through the percussion, “American Man” is hopeful and cautiously optimistic. Sumner certainly gets you thinking about it all and she makes a great connection. 

Garth Thomas