Megan Bonnell Captures Transcendence On Magnolia

By Brody Coronelli - Link: Twitter

Since 2011, Toronto-based singer-songwriter Megan Bonnell has been weaving together soft, tender, folk, and classical elements, with the feminine saunter of artists like Neko Case and Regina Spektor, in hopes of making something poignant and resonant with listeners. She succeeded with her 2011 debut Maps, a nostalgic and swaying singer-songwriter effort that not only established her as an artist, but also set a direction for her future work. She continued this vision further on her 2013 full-length debut Hunt and Chase. While this album didn’t solidify her name in any specific musical communities, it further demonstrated that Bonnell has a strong grip on her craft and the sounds that seep out of it. 


To follow up Hunt and Chase, Bonnell recently returned with Magnolia: an album that continues to ride on the drawn out, sentimental, and richly melodic waves that she’s made a point of highlighting throughout her career. On the guitar driven lead single “Can’t Have You,” Bonnell relies on a steady rise of smooth and moving vocal harmonies to navigate an early summer-esque array of bright and easygoing instrumentation. Most of the songs on this LP aim to create a brisk, reflective, and mildly transcendental atmosphere. “The Wind,” a song with the emotional drive and execution reminiscent of the impending credits of a film, Bonnell highlights a prominent and looming piano lead leading up to the lyric: “how the wind will take us home.” On the bracing “Chameleon,” Bonnell utilizes a sauntering and jazz-reminiscent piano alongside offbeat electrical distortion and a series of unexpected riffs to build up an adventurous and distinctive listen.   


While the mood of Magnolia is relatively narrow and consistent, Bonnell provides enough instrumental and thematic variety to keep it poignant all the way through. Whether she’s employing her classical sensibilities on “Dynamite” and “Lucky Man,” exploring the drawling and rich sounds of roots and alt-country on “Broken Hearted Avenue,” or finding resolution in the smooth indie-folk of “You Are The One,” Magnolia is a dynamic album that twists and turns in all the right places for the sake of cherishing, haunting, and ultimately heartening. 




Listen to: “Chameleon”, “Broken Hearted Avenue”