Music to provoke thought

Local artist J.E. Sunde tackles many different subjects to connect to his listeners

More stories from Bri Hageman


Photo by Bri Hageman

Local folk singer J.E. Sunde performed thought provoking songs from his album “Shapes That Kiss The Lips of God” Friday night at The Cabin.

Breakups, dogs, the military and a woman coloring her nails. These few things all seem very random, yet were all topics folk singer J.E. Sunde brought to The Cabin with his songs Friday night.

Sunde had The Cabin packed with every seat taken, the audience composed of a variety of age groups with spreading smiles across each person’s face.

“Most music I play is pretty somber…but with a tinge of hope,” Sunde said.

Sunde started playing music when he was 12, performing for friends and family. Then, 10 years ago he started a band with his brother and a close friend, touring around the U.S., Canada and Europe.

After traveling for so long, the idea of staying in one place sounded appealing, so Sunde returned to Eau Claire and started to create his own music. A liberal studies alum of UW-Eau Claire, he returned to campus with his performance at The Cabin.

Sunde said the coffee shop didn’t exist when he was a student here.

“I’ve peed like four times before this show because I’m so jacked off the coffee here,” Sunde said jokingly.

Sunde switched between the guitar and the piano throughout the show, with a voice that vibrated across the room. His excitement for the show shined across the stage as he moved to the beat and stood on his tippy toes to passionately sing into the microphone.

“The first time I heard J.E. Sunde was at a house show,” senior Kelly Butzer said. “I really just enjoyed his style and think he has a really cool voice. He is just great.”

The songs Sunde sang were simple and mostly uplifting. The folk music brought a very togetherness environment to the people around.

Before every song, Sunde explained the meaning behind it.

“I really love to try to tackle larger philosophical ideas in a narrow focus,” Sunde said, “…and it’s always humbling when it speaks to people more deeply,” Sunde said.

“He was like Vance Joy meets Sleeping at Last,” Rya Wait, audience member, said. “His yellow shirt and glasses paired with his big smile drew you into a happy vibe that stuck with you even when you left The Cabin.”

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly spelled J.E Sunde’s name.