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ISSUE 120 VOL 14 PUBLISHED 3/9/2007

Songstress Haley Bonar preps for Pause

By April Wright
Variety Editor

Friday, March 9, 2007

Believe it or not, Minneapolis is known for its totally wicked music scene. Throughout the year, bits and pieces of this music scene have been working their way down to St. Olaf. Tuesday is going to be the hip Pause show to end all hip Pause shows.

Who is the Pause bringing in? None other than blog-buzz queen Haley Bonar.

I really love Haley Bonar, and couldn’t be more excited for her to play the Pause. While I could go on and on about how much I dig her, I’ll give you a brief run-down on this up-and-coming Twin Cities folkster.

Bonar is a fairly recent Twin Cities transplant. She had previously lived in Duluth, and toured with local heroes Low. Even with her success there, Bonar characterizes her move to the Cities as very natural. “I just started playing shows at the 400 Bar and then kind of moved on,” she said. “I think this is a really great scene.”

But in 2006, Haley-mania gripped the local music media. In 2003, she had released The Size of Planets, which garnered oodles of critical success. But Bonar’s follow-up album, Lure the Fox, absolutely exploded. By the end of 2006, the album was on many local best-of lists, and it sometimes feels like I can’t open a local publication without seeing some mention or blurb about Bonar.

With very good reason, I might add. Fox is a phenomenal album. To me, the sonic progression from Planets to Fox is the sound of a very pointed, confessional, observant artist getting comfortable in her own skin. That's a sentiment Bonar agreed with. “I would say that, you know, all the songs I write are very personal. They’ve kind of transcended the beginning singer/songwriter stage and I feel more like I own what I'm doing,” she said.

That doesn't mean she's dissed her older material, though. "I feel proud of most things I've done," Bonar said, referring to her previous releases.

Bonar's increased confidence and experience has an immense impact on Lure the Fox. The songs on Fox are sparsely instrumented, but with Bonar purring her cerebral yet intensely emotional lyrics over the top, listeners don't really need a whole lot of other stuff going on.

Nonetheless, she pulls together some of the biggest names in Minnesota music to help bring out the loneliness and beauty on the record. On drums, she has Dave King (Happy Apple and Halloween, Alaska); Alan Sparhawk (Low) makes a cameo on “Give It Up” and Chris Morrissey (Mason Jennings) plays bass. With such an all-star line-up, this record was destined for greatness.

But Bonar doesn't stop with a great record. She puts on a fantastic live show, as well. I had the pleasure of seeing her last year with Andrew Bird when he played the Fine Line. (Bird later invited Bonar to make an appearance on his new record, Armchair Apocrypha.) Everything about her records translates amazingly to a concert setting. None of the subtlety or nuance of her record is lost when making the transition from mixed and polished to raw and unadulterated.

So, with a widely loved record under her belt, a real knack for performing live and an adoring fan base, what's Bonar to do now? “I'm working on getting everything in order for the next album,” she said. “I have the songs in order, I have the people I want.” Bonar is aiming to have a new record out by this time next year. And with the buzz she’s already built, I predict the next album will push her into the national spotlight.

Bonar plays the Pause Tuesday, March 13 at 10 p.m.

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