Artist: Haley Bonar
Album: Last War
Release Date: 20 May 2014
Reviewer: Mitch Kampf – Station Manager
Review Date: 26 May 2014
Former Duluth native Haley Bonar returns with her fifth studio album Last War, which is quite possibly her most sophisticated album to date. Following the acclaim of Bonar’s Golder album, Last War continues her indie folk rock sound, but is both richer and darker in tone. The melodic layers underlying all of Last War’s nine tracks embrace a clever use of drum and synthesizer to enhance Bonar’s piercing lyricism creating a truly remarkable album.
The album opens with the single “Kill the Fun”, a familiar tune to listeners of the Current, featuring the dark tones and melodic layers mentioned earlier. The album flows from harsher fast-paced tracks like title track “Last War” into a solemn acoustic ending in “Eat for Free”, showcasing a wide range of Bonar’s abilities as an artist. The album also features vocal collaboration with singer songwriter Justin Vernon of Bon Iver, and Volcano Choir acclaim on two tracks.
With Last War, Haley Bonar has indeed mastered the balance between catchy indie folk rock and deep intriguing lyricism. “Woke up in My Future” features riveting lyrics like: “I felt safe and sound, leading with my confidence/ I cut it down with a sword of common sense/ and I took care of things, I loved to call my heart” Last War‘s lyricism is raw with emotion when backed by the album’s dark melodies. Despite Last War being Bonar’s heaviest album yet, her vocals cut through each track with impactful storytelling, drawing the listener into feelings of entropy, elation, and all that lies in between.
Overall, Bonar does an excellent job incorporating a multitude of sound layers into Last War, while not detracting from her own lyrics and vocals. Every layer in the album meshes seamlessly into not only an enjoyable listening experience, but into a weaving story progressing through each track. Haley Bonar will be an artist to watch in years to come. Last War is a fine tuned album that puts emphasis on Bonar’s strengths in storytelling, while creating a melodically unique experience that captures the listener in the enchanting world of Bonar’s emotionally charged lyrics.