Haley Bonar, "Impossible Dream" (GNDWIRE/Thirty Tigers)
Haley Bonar's songs on "Impossible Dream" are both personal and universal, stories with an indie film ambience detailed enough to fill a larger screen.
Born in Canada, raised in South Dakota and now living in St. Paul, Minnesota, the 33-year-old turned it up a notch on her previous album, 2014's "Last War," and this one continues in a similar vein — gliding power-pop that's much more in-your-ear than in-your-face.
The cinematic textures are enhanced by her voice awash in reverb and the echoing layers of instruments, all at the service of vignettes — "borne of my own set of memories and ideas" — whose anguish and uncertainty are far from conquered.
The room on the album cover looks like it's inside a Christmas tree — decorations are added every year but none are removed. It's a canny reflection of the songs, where the emotional overload builds from one tune to the next.
"Hometown goes wherever you go," the opener says, followed immediately by "Your Mom is Right" and "Kismet Kill," with the wistful line of "I was impossible when I was beautiful." Youth may be wasted on the young, but it left some marks and even taught you a few things.
With 10 songs in 32 minutes, Bonar's album is as short as it is affecting. "It's all on credit anyway, until we're out of things to say," Bonar says on album closer "Blue Diamonds Fall." She deserves to be allowed to run up as large a tab as she needs.