Is she gonna be a big star?

Album Title: 
Big Star
Band Name: 
Haley Bonar
Release Year: 

Big Star is Haley Bonar's third label-released full-length, her second on Afternoon Records. It maps a very nice progression for her. She hit it fairly big in the Twin Cities with her last album, Lure the Fox. Haley also performed on the last Andrew Bird record, Armchair Apocrypha, and I believe opened for part of that tour as well... But what are the fur hood and the smirk about? Is that what you look like on your way to stardom?

So, now she has recorded this latest piece, and it is good. Her sound has stayed more or less the same, but has gotten more produced. Everything has been recorded perfectly, everything sounds intentional and well placed. Big Star has managed to blend the normal melancholy with some more pop-influences, and it makes the album more accessible without leaving behind any former fans. This album also has more of a country-rock sound in it, particularly on tracks 8 and 9. The blend of styles and sounds (though the organ use from previous albums is not as prevalent here) keeps the 11 songs moving, and keeps a listener interested. The short overall length helps here too, 11 songs, 31 minutes, not bad. Each song ends while you are still interested, and want to hear more, particularly the poppier ones, probably a good sign of a pop-song.

Personal favorites are tracks 2 and 7, Arms of Harm and Something Great respectively. They best combine the new "poppier" sound with the old Melancholic Haley. While not necessarily happy sounding, they have something that draws one in. Something about the way the guitars start on their own and then each drum part comes in to build the progression really turns me on. I also find the lyric "You bring the guitar baby, I'll bring the beer/ sing and dance til its half past two, then we'll fall asleep" from Arms of Harm to be particularly amusing. These two songs manage this melancholic-pop sound by having up-beat, catchy rythms, while mixing in slightly sadder sounding vocals, instruments, and sarcastic, smart lyrics.

The short version is that this album is at least worth a listen. Perhaps best genre-fied as alt-pop-indie-melancholy-country, if you need that sort of thing. If you have any like for artists like Kathleen Edwards, Gillian Welch, Mark Kozelek, M. Ward, and Andrew Bird for that matter, you may enjoy Big Star. Also, be sure to check out Lure the Fox if you find this album intriguing.