erasing clouds

Haley Bonar, ...The Size of Planets (Chairkicker's Music)

reviewed by dave heaton

Sometimes I'm truly amazed by the power of a song. Somebody somewhere picks up a guitar, comes up with a tune and some words and sings it. Months, years or decades later I hear it and am absolutely transfixed. I hear it and nothing else matters. For a few minutes I'm transported to somewhere else and am overloaded with emotions. There's music that I hate, music I'm indifferent to, and music that I love … but then there's songs that sweep me away, that leave me unable to really express why I like them but at the same time make me feel like magic does exist. And those are the hardest albums to write about. How can I say something as simple as "I love this album" without sounding like an idiot, and still fill up the space of a review? How do I express how much an album knocks me over without resorting to hyberbole; it's impossible, really. I could just not even try to describe the album, just call it indescribable, but how convincing would that be?

The latest album to hit me in that way is …The Size of Planets, the second album (first to be widely available) by Haley Bonar, a singer/songwriter from Duluth, Minnesota. This album is not revolutionary or like nothing you've ever heard before. It's not going to change the face of music as we know it. This album is a work of absolute beauty that will stun you, an album filled with compact, poetic expressions of the real emotions that all people exprience.

Haley Bonar sings melodic, slightly countrified dream-folk songs which reflect both the everyday struggles of your neighbors and the philosophical queries of a starry-eyed dreamer. In other words, they convey pain, confusion, hurt and despair in a real-life way, with a certain friendly tone, yet also look outward at the big question of why we're here. Take "Car Wreck," where the narrator flies through a windshield, lands on her back on the concrete, looks up at the stars and contemplates her role in the universe as her life slips away. Or "Bless This Mess," a stark description of the process of learning to gain or lose religion. These songs are pretty, but they also say interesting things in an interesting way.

But while Bonar's lyrics are intriguing, the songs mostly take your breath away because they're gorgeous. Her voice soars over haunting guitars and piano, consistently surprising you with its range and capability.

If you can't tell, I like this album a lot.

For more information, visit Chairkickers' Music or

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