With a genre-bending sound that blends old country folk and heady indie pop, Sunmay sweeps listeners down dusty roads full of broken stories, bright guitars, sad harmonicas and sweet, wistful girl/ boy harmonies.


Sunmay’s debut, “You Can Make Beautiful Things,” defies easy categorization. Full of the understated sparseness of old country folk, it is woven throughout with pure pop sensibility and lush orchestration. The record showcases Sunmay’s split affinity for acoustic purity and electronic experimentation.

From the invisibility of Meek’s layered production to Pugh’s melodic and intuitive guitar, Sunmay’s first obligation is to the song, each element added with intention.

Dubbed “a storyteller in the purest sense” and “the latest folk savior to watch” (Albuquerque Weekly), Bartley writes intelligent, intimate, and stunningly poetic songs. Her voice, compared to Beth Orton (Seattle Weekly) and Natalie Merchant (Willamette Week), is gorgeous and sincere, as she entwines her snapshot stories into the rootsy, ethereal sounds she creates with Pugh and Scheen.

Bartley and Pugh began playing music together in her attic apartment in late 2000. They soon enlisted upright bassist Andy Scheen to join them for local performances. Pugh and Scheen had been friends since their teens and had formed Seattle band, Swallow, in the early 90s, releasing two records on Subpop.

Sunmay recorded 14 songs during a weekend in January at the studio of friend, Colm Meek. After listening back to the recording, Meek encouraged them to work on a full release. Over the next few months, with Meek and several friends, including, Mark Ekert (Heliotroupe), Scott Vanderpool (Chemistry Set, Room Nine), and Red Diamond, Sunmay completed the 11 songs that make up “You Can Make Beautiful Things”.

In addition to their work with Sunmay, Pugh makes up a third of techno-downbeaters, saba, and Scheen performs in a big band. Bartley has released three full-length solo recordings. (

You Can Make Beautiful Things is Sunmay’s first release.


Goin' Down

Written By: Deborah Bartley

It’s just an oral gratification
It’s just a lazy fixation
Your mouth around a bottle or a stick
Or my sick, sick heart

It’s just a chemical reaction
It’s just fuel to funnel your attention
From the whirling world outside your window
When it’s all over you’ll say you should’ve been

You never know what you got
You never knew what you wanted
And now it’s gone
And you’ll say that it’s over
When you know
It’s only really just begun
Well, so long
Don’t you believe it
I’m not going down with you

It’s just a waning old attraction
That never came to its fruition
On the grapevine that is my life
Winding as it does while no one’s listening

It’s just a foolish contradiction
Picking up these new addictions
In the recession of your youthfulness
That you never cared much about but I’m sure you’ll miss

You never know what you got
You never knew what you wanted
And now it’s gone
And you’ll say that it’s over
When you know
It’s only really just begun
Well, so long
Don’t you believe it
I’m not going down with you


Written By: Deborah Bartley

This is Wednesday morning
I watch her bus come in
The windshield says bound for Phoenix
But she’s getting off here

We’ll leave in the morning
Despite the engine knock
So keep your eye on the cue ball
And keep you fingers crossed

This is Arizona
This is on the run
This is one for our history
And one for what’s to come

Emergency phone booth
Are you out there alone?
If you don’t have a man with you
Please stay in the van

We get to ride up in the flatbed
She plays dj and lights us up
We both take off our t-shirts
And wave at the trucks

This is central desert
This is broken down
This is what you get when
You’re having too much fun

Barstow to the ocean
It’s a 106
We’re stuck riding in the cab now
There’s a big grizzly at the wheel

This is California
This is where we get off
This is when people start looking
And it’s too late to stop

This is California
This is where we met
This is where I left you
And never went back


You Can Make Beautiful Things (Release Date: June 18, 2005)

Set List

Our sets range from 25 to 90 minutes.

Goin’ Down
Joe DiMaggio
The Hit and the Run
Let’s Go to Bed*
Life Becomes an Island
Sucker Punch
Nothing Changes**
I’ll Be Your Mirror***

All songs written by Deborah Bartley,
except *Robert Smith and Laurence
Tolhurst; **Bartley/Pugh; and ***Lou Reed.