Dynamic, talented and enrapturing are adjectives that easily spring to mind when you mention Haley Bonar. Bringing a modern influence to the ever-successful folk and country music genre, Last War is the latest record from the American alternative singer. At 31 Bonar has already recorded 11 albums over her career and it doesn’t feel as though she’s close to slowing down – thank you Bonar!
Opening track Kill The Fun begins with a precarious organ like sound before breaking into a light and catchy beat. Featuring myriad sounds born from the keyboard the track is actually a subtle introduction to an album full of dynamic, challenging tracks. Bonar is a square peg we’re trying to fit into a round hole, she is not one specific genre and track two is testament to this. No Sensitive Man features her notable guitar and keyboard combo, alternative to the tee the only resemblance to country or perhaps folk are in her poetic lyrical delivery. This track is also a spicy insight into Bonar with lyrics like “Once you loved his Hippie ways, now you want to cut off all his string”. Love it.
It’s difficult to write a review about this record because each track deserves a mention. Title track Last War is magnificent. Bonar’s soft entrancing voice layers over a repetitive kick and hypnotic plucks of her guitar. It is four minutes of pensive music. Bonar comes across as a musical explorer and well rounded in her musical capability, it feels as though she enjoys creating music that suits a purpose rather than a genre. Last War the record covers the spectrum in its entirety.
From A Cage featuring Justin Vernon of Bon Iver with its heavy keyboard and eerie vocal layering is a melancholy track. Gorgeous presentation it is captivating considering its simplicity. You’re often unaware of the heavy-hearted lyrics that Bonar in her country drawl are delivering. Justin Vernon lends his vocals to two tracks on the album; the aforementioned plus closing acoustic track Eat For Free, two tracks that really tug at the emotions. A dangerous combination for the feint hearted.
Last War is fantastic; it is emotive and deep in musical offering. You can feel that Bonar writes her music from a true place and as a listener can appreciate her candidness. Although most tracks do carry with them heavy lyrics the overlay of energetic or light instrumental tones provides the right amount of joy for everyday listening. For a woman with so many albums under her belt it is both a pleasure and just impressive that Haley Bonar can continue to bring us such great music.