|Megan Bonnell||Separate Rooms|
|Cadence Music||Apr. 13th, 2018|
Megan Bonnell — Separate Rooms (Apr. 13th, 2018)• Megan Bonnell is quickly becoming one of Canada’s leading voices as a songwriter, performer, and artist. A two~time Canadian Folk Music Award nominee, Megan has spent the last three years touring Canada, the US, and making groundbreaking debut performances at European festivals including BIME Live Festival in Bilbao, the Barcelona Jazz Festival, and The End Festival in London.
Location: Caledon, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Album release: April 13th, 2018
Record Label: Cadence Music
01 Breakdown 3:37
02 Separate Rooms 3:37
03 Your Voice 3:18
04 What’s Good For You 4:42
05 Radio Silence 3:48
06 Someday I’m Gonna Kill You 2:48
07 Where Is the Love 5:22
08 Crossed My Mind 3:44
09 California 4:18
10 Can’t Be Undone 3:58
℗ 2018 Megan Bonnell under exclusive license to Cadence Music / Cadence Music Group
• “I am different than I used to be,” sings Megan Bonnell on Separate Rooms’ opener, “Breakdown.” It’s a line about hardship and rebuilding — two themes on the Toronto singer’s third full~length, which was written during a period of loss and depression. Somber piano ballads like “What’s Good for You” and “Can’t Be Undone” explore the shadows, while the jangly, Joni Mitchell~esque “California” dreams of sunnier days.
About Megan Bonnell
• Megan Bonnell is an alternative folk singer~songwriter based in Toronto, Canada. Born and raised in Caledon, Ontario, she became proficient on the piano and guitar, and crafts music that carries a quiet but intense disposition led by the singer’s breathy vocal delivery. Bonnell’s eponymous debut EP appeared in September 2010 and was followed by another EP, Maps, the next summer. Produced by Chris Stringer (the Wooden Sky, Holly McNarland) and Josh Van Tassel (David Myles, Christine Bougie), and incorporating the occasional synth and electric guitar, her full~length debut, Hunt and Chase, was released by Nevado Records in late 2013. She signed with Fontana for her second album, which was again produced by Stringer and Van Tassel. Magnolia arrived in the spring of 2016. ~ Marcy Donelson
Ljubinko Zivkovic; Score: ****
••» Three albums into her musical career and Megan Bonnell is ready to become a name that is recognizable beyond Canadian borders. While her previous two albums, Hunts and Chase and Magnolia, have given her wider exposure in Ontario and particularly Toronto area as well as getting her two~time Canadian Folk Music Award nominations, Separate Rooms, her third album could bring her much wider recognition she deserves.
••» One of the key elements you can notice on Separate Rooms is the musical diversity Bonnell uses to transmit her message. From the Cocteau Twins inflected introduction of “Breakdown”, to upbeat pop of the title song, to Kate Bush style dramatization of “Radio Silence” to new wave~ish sounds of “I’m Gonna Kill You”.
••» The last track brings us to the other key element of Separate Rooms, and that is Bonnell’s lyrics. If you are looking for some chirpy or sparkly words, you just might try something else. Continuing the dark lyrical trend of her previous album, Bonnell goes even a step further on this album. Here she examines all those dark corners and shadows, from mental illness (“Breakdown”) to lost relationships (title~song). But, instead of getting lost in self~pity, with her lyrics Bonnell presents a sobering~up experience — for herself and for her listeners.
••» What is particularly refreshing with Separate Rooms is that this musical diversity that often includes elements of sophisticated pop gels seamlessly with Bonnell’s dark lyrics. Separate Rooms is an album that begs to be heard. ••» http://spillmagazine.com/
By Matthew McKean, Published Apr 18, 2018; Score: 9
••» Megan Bonnell’s new release, Separate Rooms, is a powerful collection of reflective, genre~defying pop~folk balladry. In other words, more of what the Toronto~based singer~songwriter is so, so good at.
••» Bonnell’s third full~length is more spare than 2016’s Magnolia, and the narrative is decidedly darker this time around. Separate Rooms explores relationship breakdowns (as on the title track, co~written with the great Donovan Woods) and mental illness (“Breakdown”). See also “Someday I’m Gonna Kill You,” though “Radio Silence,” the middle track, feels like the record’s darkest moment.
••» Rest assured, there's softness and light here too, on “What’s Good For You” and “Where Is The Love.” “Crossed My Mind” is the anthem the record desperately needs, while “California” jangles and disperses any pent~up energy before “Can’t Be Undone” completes the soul~baring journey. “I’ve changed / I have changed,” she sings, as if to reassure herself and us.
••» Bonnell’s incandescent voice conceals none of the heartbreak and redemption and nor does the instrumentation. Cleverly, the musician — with her usual co~conspirators, Joshua Van Tassell and Chris Stringer — accentuates the sad~happy storytelling with glittering percussion, piano, and electric guitar, giving shape to an utterly compelling and expansive set of songs. ••» https://exclaim.ca/
By David DeRocco
••» Megan Bonnell. You may not know that name, but you should. In the way you should know Alanis Morissette and Fiona Apple. Strong, female singer/songwriters seem to come in waves; some quickly wash away, while others have a tsunami-like impact. With the release of her third album, Separate Rooms, slated for April 6th, the Toronto~based Bonnell may hit the Canadian music industry with a force it hasn’t seen since Jagged Little Pill unleashed its unexpected fury.
••» Not that Bonnell has the same jaded, pent up anger that fueled Morissette’s velvety vitriol. Sure, there are songs about the damage love can cause (“Breakdown,” “Separate Rooms,” and the current single. “What’s Good for You”); but Bonnell also tackles weighty issues like mental illness and pregnancy loss with her hallmark honesty and purity of voice. It’s a strange and entirely satisfying juxtaposition of life’s dark side revealed in the intense light of Bonnell’s carefully crafted lyrics.
••» If you haven’t bought any new music in a while, Separate Rooms is reason enough to make an investment in a Canadian artist on the verge of becoming entirely huge (pre-sale link below!). And if you haven’t bought a concert ticket in a while, you can check out Bonnell and her band April 8th in an intimate performance at The Warehouse. Emerging from a songwriting session in Toronto, Bonnell took some time to chat with GoBeWeekly.com in anticipation of her upcoming return to St. Catharines.
GOBE: You mention you were in a songwriting session. What does that look like, what format does it take?
MEGAN: It depends. Sometimes I write with my friend Bret Higgins from Great Lake Swimmers. We’ve been doing some co~writing together and it usually is about three hours. It totally depends on the person and the purpose as well.
GOBE: What form does the collaboration take. Is there a big white board full of ideas? Is it just two people tossing ideas around, bouncing lyrics off each other in a wordy game of ping pong?
MEGAN: Totally. One thing I’ve realized from doing it more and more is, it is such a muscle you strengthen over time. There’s no method really. It totally depends on the person. Usually each person will have an idea they’re ready to present, just the beginning of an idea perhaps if you’re writing with something specifically in mind. If I go into a session wanting to write for my own music, often I find it will be my idea that becomes the starting point and sort of gets us rolling. I’m getting more and more into it. It’s such a fun thing, and seeing someone else’s process is very informative and educational to my own songwriting.
GOBE: So why are you writing now? You’re just about to release your third album in April. Are you some sort of a keener?
MEGAN: (Laughing) I know, what the heck. It actually feels nice to do some writing now, with other people in mind too, to kind of develop that when there’s space to do that. And also the pressure’s off for me. I write most of my own stuff for myself but there’s been a few collaborations on each album. Actually “Separate Rooms,” the single off the album, was a collaboration with Donovan Woods. That was super cool to see his process as well.
GOBE: This is your third full length album. Is the process of writing, recording and touring getting easier or harder the more experienced you become as you raise your level of personal expectations.
MEGAN: That’s a good question. It gets easier in some ways I think, and more fun in a lot of ways. As you gain confidence along the way you can play with things a little bit more. I think that making this album in the studio was certainly the most fun but also the hardest I’ve ever worked in the recording process of the album. It’s a double~edged sword I guess, but also it’s so fun as you evolve with your band and in a live setting. It’s just nice as you become more self~assured as a person. I feel I’ve matured a lot as we all do over the last couple of albums. It’s neat to see that naturally come out and be expressed in a creative way while you’re on stage and in the studio. It’s a natural thing but it feels really nice. You feel like you’re standing in your shoes in a comfy way.
GOBE: You mention more work for this album. Was there a particular track that gave you a hard time, whether it was to nail the vocal performance you wanted or just to get it exactly right?
MEGAN: I think the first song off the album. It’s called “Breakdown.” It’s got a weird time signature in it. I don’t even know what’s going on in that song. It felt like we were wrestling with it in the beginning and we just had to step back. We just weren’t sure in what direction it wanted or needed to go. It was also the first song out of the gate so we were putting a lot of pressure on ourselves. It took going down a few avenues and not having it sit right before realizing, let’s reset, what are we wanting in the long run here and what do we need to do to make that happen on this song. Once we got that, that really set the tone for the whole album.
GOBE: Where do you find the greatest joy in making the music you make? Is it in the writing, the recording or the touring?
MEGAN: I think each one has such a special aspect about it and its own set of challenges. Writing, I guess I find that less challenging in a sense, because it feels like there’s less at stake in a sense. You’re by yourself, you write when you feel inspired. It feels very intimate and a personal, therapeutic time for myself. I can work through things in my mind emotionally. In the studio it can be the most satisfying and a joyful feeling. At the same time you feel the pressure to make it the best thing it can possibly be. It’s trying at times, sometimes it’s hard to bring out musically that feeling that you want to capture.
GOBE: Do you find inspiration comes easier when you’re in a state of emotional stability or emotional chaos?
MEGAN: It’s funny. I always feel that just after emotional chaos is when I can then reflect on it and write. But now I’ve been doing it long enough that I’ve been through those different phases, like really solid steady times and more emotional, turbulent times. And it’s neat to see how inspiration finds its way to you. I also found with this album more than others, it really was a combination of my own personal experience and then also the experiences, greatest joys and greatest sorrows of the people closest to me. I found on this album the lines really melted into one thing. We obviously do that with people we love. We take on their experiences and feel them with them as they do ours. I’m more aware of that on this album, that a lot of that got brought into what I was singing about.
GOBE: The songs deal with some pretty weighty subject matter, from mental illness to pregnancy loss and the breakdown of love. And yet there’s a wonderful hopefulness in the music. Was that a conscious attempt to balance those subject matters with the music?
MEGAN: We’re in such a cool time right now in society where there is this really important attempt where we’re actually coming forward and telling our stories. The things that used to be and have been taboo for years,, we’re shattering taboos and turning those taboos into conversations, and I think that it almost feels like our duty. For me I feel it’s important to be forthcoming. I also like connecting with people over really personal and intimate stuff. And although sometimes it can feel uncomfortable I think it’s important to start the conversation and make it feel more natural. That’s also the stuff that hits me in the middle of my heart, so of course that’s what I’m going to sing about. It wouldn’t be real otherwise.
GOBE: You’re a piano player but have also picked up the guitar. Who or what was the original inspiration to start playing guitar.
MEGAN: I played piano for a really long time. I just love the sound of the guitar so much. It spoke to me. And I was just ready for a change in the approach to my writing, to just kind of shift what I was doing. It’s neat for me to have the two different instruments to write on because they do pull on different emotions.
GOBE: You’re on the verge of your third album and touring in support of it. What would the ideal career look like for you if you had to project it to the end?
MEGAN: I definitely feel happy and excited. I feel the most proud I’ve ever felt of anything in my music career about this album. Right now I feel really focused on that. And what I really want these next few years with this album is just getting out there and connecting with people. I think connection has always been my core reason as to why I want to do this. I love meeting and connecting with other humans in a real way. When you get on the road it’s amazing how you can come out and make these genuine connections with people that last a lifetime. I just want to get out there and be playing this album as much as possible in North America, in Europe and hopefully Australia this time too. Just to keep building off that with each tour, reaching larger audiences, into bigger theatres and venues, and just making that wave a little bigger each time out.
GOBE: Which moment in your career has left you saying, “wow, I can’t believe this is happening?”
MEGAN: There has been a number of them. A few I can think of that are so obvious to me. Great Lake Swimmers were one of my favourite bands all through university. I just adored their music, and it turned out I ended up singing with them, and doing four or five tours with them, and becoming part of their performance and singing harmonies and opening for them. That for me, when that began, was a crazy oh my gosh moment. And then with this album, I’m such a huge fan of Donavon Woods. To have him involved on the single, I feel really honoured.
GOBE: For the crowd coming out to The Warehouse April 8th, what can they expect from your performance.
MEGAN: I’m going to have the band with me. It’s going to be the day after our album release in Toronto so we’re going to be pumped. And it really does kick off the tour, it’s going to be the second show. I’m just so excited to be coming back. I played there last month so it will be great. ••» https://gobeweekly.com/
CMG Label: http://www.cadencemusicgroup.com/home/
|Megan Bonnell||Separate Rooms|
|Cadence Music||Apr. 13th, 2018|