The first time I saw Haley Bonar (like Bonner) perform was eight years ago.
She opened for Low at Old Brick here in Iowa City, promoting her 2003 album, Size of Planets. I was going to see Low, but I was so blown away by Haley’s performance that I immediately rushed over to the merch table after the show and bought everything I could get. At the time, that amounted to the aforementioned LP and another early singles compilation.
Since then, I’ve seen her play three more times (not to mention collected five or six other albums and EPs), each better than the last. Regardless of the live setup (sometimes solo with Farfisa and guitar, sometimes with a full band), the show is built around her captivating songwriting and utterly arresting vocals. She has one of those voices where she could simply get up and sing passages from a dictionary and still make the audience melt.
Her newest full length offering, Golder, finds her in top form. Gone (for the most part) are the dark torch songs of Size of Planets and Lure the Fox. Instead, the mood seems lighter and the subject matter brighter. While not without exceptions, it seems to me that her progression from that first album to Lure the Fox, Big Star and, particularly, Golder is tending toward a bigger, fuller sound with more instrumentation and slicker production.
And that is a great thing.
Stream the album in its entirety here:
Haley Bonar is playing with Holcombe Waller at The Englert, Friday, July 1, 2011 at 8:00pm. As if it couldn’t get any better, this show is part of the Intimate at the Englert Series, with seating onstage, limited to 75-100. Don’t sleep on this one!
Disclosure: Little Village is a (very proud!) sponsor of the Intimate at the Englert series.