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Megan Bonnell
Maps
Nevada Records
www.meganbonnell.bandcamp.com


Canadian singer-songwriter Megan Bonnell takes audiences on a journey of self-discovery on her new recording Maps from Nevada Records. Maps is actually used as a metaphor to represent the various points she marks along her travels. Joined by drummer Eric Wickman and featuring an assortment of talent that includes Jim Sexton on acoustic bass, Brenna McLane on viola, and Roslyn Green on acoustic guitar, among others. Maps is clad in ambient pop rivulets complemented by folk-inspired acoustics emblematic of Alison Krauss.

The merry-go-round tempo of the piano chords in "South Korea" are garnished sporadically in wisps of swirling strings. The malleable turns in Bonnell's vocals are reminiscent of Hem's Sally Ellyson as she reflects, "South Korea / You take what I love / The North has done to you / What you did to my heart." The smoky embers of "Lowell, MA" are fueled by Bonnell's soft trotting keys and the funeral march rhythm of the drumbeats as she describes, "Your beauty preserved in a picture / That's framed and polished by his bed / Where you wrote letters to his children / Telling them of the country he once fled / He died so you could live in peace."

The overall mood of the 4-track EP is somber and reflective as a gentle drizzle of keys is made filament by Wickman's mallet-toned beats and beaded in willowy strings through the title track. The album's strongest track "Lake Superior" is barged by gently pressed keys which swift dramatically into bold strokes and vibrating drumbeats. The shift in dynamics brings out Bonnell's ability to adapt to conditions outside of her comfort zone of piano ballads.

Megan Bonnell's vocals have all the beauty and elegance that the public has come to equate with female lead singers and the mettle to withstand changes in the dynamics of the music. Her songs are likeable without bending over into commercial-driven pop. Maps is the follow up to her self-titled debut digital release in 2010, and weaves human drama into geographical destinations with the finesse of a seasoned songwriter.

-Susan Frances

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