' There are times when one positively reels at the gross injustices in the world --- poverty, hunger, Middle Eastern tomfoolery, war, reality TV, natural disasters, and the fact that Dave Matthews gets gobs of fawning press and the adoration of fans everywhere while Forest Sun toils under relative obscurity. Who? Exactly. But you read it here first: PLENTY, Sun's newest album, is on eof the best CDs of 2002, and no, it really doesn't matter that we're only halfway through the year. Forest Sun (his real name) is a San Francisco based singer/songwriter who others in the press have compared favorably to Jack Johnson, Ben Harper, and Van Morrison. But the comparisons generally end there, as if that were enough. It's not. Sun is all that and a bowl of gravy. By blending soul, blues, jazz, gospel, and a touch of 20th centure 'Americana,' Forest Sun has managed to carve out a niche that is uniquely his, one which sounds remarkably like all of the above (and a little Keb'Mo' added to the mix) without the unsettling feeling that he's copping others' licks. His is a style of naked, earnest sincerity, with the kind of soul-baring lyrics one expects of someone at least a generation older. What's more, Forest Sun is the consumate musician. Sophomore effort PLENTY features him on -- among other instruments-- both acoustic and electric guitars, mandolin, harmonica, and piano; meanwhile, sidemen perform on upright bass, tabla, and sarod. It's an album that simultaneously explores and bends -- and ultimately blurs the lines between -- seemingly disparate genres with ease. But PLENTY isn't just fodder for music geeks (though one could spend hours dissecting it)/ nor is it merely a vehicle for jam-based virtuosity. Rather, it's a singular marriage of lyric beauty and inimitable craftsmanship; a wholly organic work of musical art. If you can't catch Forest Sun and his band live (and, quite frankly, some sort of invasive surgery might be the only legitimate excuse), then at the very least buy PLENTY. Right now. Then immediately drop to your knees and thank the good Lord that musicians like Sun still exist. --Aaron Bragg, the Local Planet, Spokan, Washington.