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.
4.What’s Good for You
6.Someday I’m Gonna Kill You
7.Where Is the Love
8.Crossed My Mind
10.Can’t Be Undone