Born near Winnipeg, raised in the Black Hills of South Dakota, and later based in St. Paul, MN, singer/songwriter Haley Bonar is in the same musical orbit of the dreamy Minnesotans Low. (Her debut album, The Size of Planets, was even released on Low leader Alan Sparhawk's own label, Chairkicker's Union.) However, her sparse take on folk-rock displays little of Low's narcotic gloom, and more pertinent comparisons include Mazzy Star, Shannon Wright, and Elliott Smith. Accompanying herself alternately on acoustic guitar and a single Fender Rhodes electric piano, often without a rhythm section, Bonar delivers her minor-key tunes and elliptical lyrics in a haunting, delicate voice at times reminiscent of both Aimee Mann and Gillian Welch.
Bonar moved from South Dakota to the Twin Cities to attend college as an English literature major, but when Sparhawk met the young singer/songwriter at a showcase for young talent, he offered her a spot opening for Low on an upcoming tour. Barely out of her teens, Bonar left school and began working with Sparhawk (who provided some additional guitar loops) and Low producer Eric Swanson on her debut album, The Size of Planets, which was released in 2003. An even more accomplished follow-up, Lure the Fox, followed in late 2006, and Bonar subsequently toured alongside fellow musician Andrew Bird; she also contributed vocals to Bird's 2007 effort, Armchair Apocrypha. She released her fourth album, 2008's Big Star, at the age of 24, followed by a pair of self-released EPs. Golder arrived in 2011, followed by Last War, her fifth long player, in early 2014. ~ Stewart Mason