Why Bonnie Take us on an Emotional Voyage Through Grief, Healing, and Hesitant Acceptance.
Why Bonnie’s debut EP, “In Water” takes us on an emotional voyage through grief, healing, and hesitant acceptance.
Three years ago in a Texas bedroom, Blair Howerton created the dreamy synth rock sound of Austin band, Why Bonnie. “I started playing around with garageband on my computer and just kind of formulating a sound that I hadn’t really explored before” she told us in an interview. In three years, members have come and gone but vocalist and guitarist Blair Howerton and synth player, Kendall Powell have remained the consistent forces in the band, turning this personal pet project into a reality.
“I would like people, when they hear our music, to be able to get in touch with their emotional side and be able to listen to it and sit with it”, says Howerton. You can’t help but bathe in the emotional aftermath their debut EP, “In Water” leaves in its wake. The album is dedicated to Howerton’s brother who passed away in 2016. Each song is delicately crafted to map Howerton’s personal journey with grief and the healing process. The fullness of Howerton’s voice echoing over gentle guitars and drifting synths give the album the facade of tentative optimism in the wake of immense despair.
“Reading my fortune
In the mess I’ve made in the kitchen”
She sings in the catchy lead single, “Made of Paper”. Grief often manifests itself in messy and unpredictable ways and those caught in its throws can be tricked into thinking this feeling will last forever.
“I’m made of paper in the morning
Until I turn my face to the light
Breathing your fire that’s still burning
You told me I’d be alright”
Howerton belts that last line like she’s shouting into the unknown. “Made of Paper” encapsulates the nonsensical nature of experiencing a profound loss. The path of emotional healing is never clean cut. Optimism is mixed with anger, hope dances with sorrow.
On the list of influences, Howerton cites The Breeders, Fleetwood Mac, Angel Olson, and Palehound as musical and lyrical inspirations and their impacts are not lost on the album. The emotional rawness of the Breeders pours from every lyric while Howeron’s silky voice and fuzzy guitars resemble the softness of Palehound. The culmination of influences from such powerful and influential female artists results in a bedroom pop sound that is earnest and familiar.
“I love having people say that they heard a song and it either gave them clarity or some kind of release because I feel that way when I listen to music that really touches me, so when people give us that kind of response I know exactly what they’re talking about and its incredibly fulfilling.”
It’s nearly impossible not to be touched by the EP’s closing tune, “Walking Like This” -- a song about depression, anger, and timid acceptance.
“I don’t know what morning is anymore
It creeps into my night
Turning into colors you used to laugh like”
We see the world through blurry eyes, experiencing the lackluster lease on life the narrator has after losing a loved one. Why Bonnie challenges their audience to examine our own relationships and ask ourselves which details we take for granted with piercing lyrics that go straight for the gut.
“Heard your voice the other day
Saying my name
Had to turn and walk away
Just to stay sane.”
It’s hard to read these words as acceptance because they’re muddled in the confusion and chaos of grief. It’s moments like these that display the extent to Howerton’s lyrical talent. Grief is a slow march, but the ability to walk away from the voice of someone you’ve lost is a small step forward. As in all emotional healing, progress is often tinted with pain, sorrow, and what can feel like insanity. Sometimes progress is simply staying sane.
Why Bonnie’s ability to capture intimate and complicated emotions bring an authenticity to their work that is refreshing and poignant. The melancholic melodies intermingled with Howerton’s haunting and expressive voice brings a dynamic to the music that sets them apart from others in the bedroom pop genre. They are more than a just a genre, a mood, or a single experience.
“In Water” has shown Why Bonnie to be a collective of genuine, unique, and introspective artists who have whose ability to capture the complexity of human emotion has brought clarity to those lost in the throes of emotional turmoil.