Review: Quinn Bonnell’s Wonder both colourful and cohesive

Fredericton’s Quinn Bonnell has grown immensely as an artist in the two years since his first release The Night EP. He has found a clearer identity in his writing and a more intriguing palette of sound in his first full-length album Wonder.

Bonnell debuted his new record at The Capital Complex with a release show featuring openers Mitch Rayner and the Matt Steele Duo on Nov. 23.

The album was recorded at Shift Work Studio on Queen Street by Dylan Ward, who also plays bass on some of the album’s tracks.

It opens with the title track “Wonder” with an array of uplifting guitar and vocals that create a feeling of wonder, adventure and positivity. This is layered towards the end with some fuzzy, distorted guitar and bluesy notes to warm up the track.

Following is the album’s only single, “Clubman Estate.” Its colourful guitar and shimmering melody saturates the song with vintage overtones. Bonnell’s vocals are reserved but sync up with the rest of the instrumental to add to its wave of sound.

“Self/Soul” comes in next with a percussive riff and a unique blend of pop and blues. The steady backbeat of the rhythm section allows Bonnell to be playful with his parts throughout the song and his echoing vocals are soulful.

“Forgiver” brings another glistening guitar line that keeps the album’s atmosphere vibrant. The drums and bass follow an old-school country pattern which Bonnell pairs with sad, lonely vocals. It gives you the sensation of walking a dirt road with only the company of your thoughts.

We enter the second half of the record with the song “Middle.” Bonnell breaks out the acoustic guitar on this track and lays down a melancholy chord progression with punches of reverberating electric guitar in-between. His vocals warmly touch the ear, before flooding it with the wailing guitar solo that closes the track.

“The Same” has a much looser feel than any other track on the album. The guitars come in with this energetic climb that pulls the listener in before wrapping them up in the swaying groove of the verse. The vocals on this track mix well with the bright aesthetic of the music and get hit with another dose of distorted, glowing guitar tones in the back half.

“Sweet Touch” is another track that really embodies its name on the album. Bonnell’s guitar and vocals are again soaked in reverb, this time in a much heavier contrast to the bass and drums, as Bonnell serenades the listener with his distant singing.

From here the record fades to the last track “Journey,” which encapsulates of all the themes, colours and textures the album has presented thus far. It brings them all together one more time in an outro. The listener can drift through their thoughts while listening.

Bonnell achieves a clear definition for his sound in this album with not only a more polished, but more cohesive project. Wonder is a colourful collection of tracks that you can easily lose yourself in with a combination of styles that appeals to a wide audience.

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