There is a real pleasant recycled paper smell that tickles your nostrils when you open the booklet of this album and it is basically the same impression when you listen to the songs. Something familiar, something you’ve already heard many times, something irresistibly melancholic and shrouding. Haley Bonar takes after many of the female artists that paved the way in the last decade: Tori Amos, Fiona Apple, Tracy Bonham, Lauren Hoffman, Aimee Mann,…. As these great predecessors, Haley Bonar plays almost all instruments on her album, with little manly help here and then. She is really talented at never saturating her songs with useless arrangements and then most of the songs sound like bare fragile ballads. With the exception of the opening song ‘Save a horse, ride a cowboy’ which has a more ‘single-like’ quality than the rest - I don’t mean to be derogatory, it’s a brilliant soft pop tune on womanhood and best wishes, truly refined and ironic - there are two major types of songs : the piano ballads and the acoustic guitar ballads. And that is basically all, if you like one you like all. Her singing is pure, natural, sensual and bittersweet. ‘Am I allowed’ is a country folk complaint about never-ending waiting. The slide guitar on ‘Drinking again’ stupidly reinforces the western soundtrack idea I got when I first read the title of the first track. It’s one of my favourite, with her voice gracefully reaching high notes on the chorus. ‘Bless this mess’ sounds like an acoustic version of ‘Stand by me’ by Oasis in my mind, it has somehow the same chord progression pattern and still the voice enhancing the minimalism of the music. With ‘Sun don’t shine’ and ‘Out of the lake’ the melancholy turns to sadness, almost unbearable but beautiful. The rest of the album is a slow downward fall into Haley’s rotten love stories and disbeliefs, always going deeper under water.
works even if it might be a little repetitive. It works better if you are into
the ambiance, lying naked on the floor before a dying fire with your lover’s
head sleeping against your spacious belly. You feel the gooseflesh on her legs,
arms and heart and so you adjust carefully the multicolored tiger blanket your
mother handmade for your fifth wedding anniversary, trying to cover every inch
of her innocent skin. She moans. You stroke her long fair hair with a passive
slowness until she decides to become queen of the rodeo for the fourth time
Then you wake up.
You must not play this CD during daytime.
-Angus "U See Sea Red" Anderson
/apr 15th 2003/