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A review of...
Impossible Dream by Haley Bonar
Haley Bonar retruns with a breezy pop record with rough edges
Impossible Dream is the new album from American (actually, Canadian born) artist Haley Bonar and it was, as is becoming the norm lately, recorded on analog tape. I wonder if there will be a time when artists move to digital to capture the long lost sound of the noughties...probably not. Anyway, it was recorded in Pachyderm Studios in Cannon Falls, Minnesota, and the good news is, it sounds really great. I will allocate some of the plaudits to the analog tape thing, but the fact that Bonar has some thoroughly timeless sounding songs up her sleeve probably doesn't do her any harm.
The softly sung vocals are in direct contrast to the big musical scores that underlay them, which makes for an interesting and hugely enjoyable mix. The songs are plastered with 1980's hallmarks, the bit of the 1980's that was obsessed by the 1950's (the whole decade then?), so we get plenty of twangs, tremolo and clean rocking guitars along with those understated and lush vocals that Bonar delivers so well. The Bangles, The Bunnymen and more recent peers like Hannah Cohen spring to mind when you listen to this record, but it's still a living breathing thing in it's own right. It comes very close to the great heights of The Bangles' Different Light, or the Bunnymen's Ocean Rain, or Cohen's Pleasure Boy (all albums which I love very much) in terms of sheer listenability. It also sees Bonar punching way above her indie label credentials in a similar manner to the way (Memphis Industries label-mates) Field Music did on their recent Commontime LP. Both are ambitious pop records coming from artists that are finding their peaks well into their careers. Like Field Music, there doesn't seem to be any sign of Haley Bonar losing her edge or slipping into cruise control.
This is a warm and evocative album that makes you think back to all of those childhood American summers that you never actually had.