Hailing from Australia Brendan Bonsack is the kind of musician who seems to have an unlimited reservoir of songs spewing from his innate creativity. Bonsack has released six albums and a number of EPs of folk rock that revolves around lyric-based songs and slick production. His recent album The Sky That Came Before is a solid ten-song effort showcasing Bosack’s versatility as well as talent for songwriting in general. Bonsack keeps the instrumentation straightforward not deviating from the simplicity of bass, guitar and drums while enriching the songs with catchy vocal melodies and lyrics good enough to make you interested in what he is saying.
Bonsack opens the album with the title track “The Sky That Came Before.” It’s a melodic upbeat song that has an infectious vocal melody. Bonsack’s lyrics lean more towards that of a poet than that of a narrative. He sings; “Skin shakes, clouds break / Day snakes into view /Throw my head out as a litmus / The tears of a witness wet my face.” I could hear a bit of Bill Callahan in the second song “Cauliflower Scans” as Bonsack sings in a low octave that leaves his vocal chords unharmed. Bonsack’s lyrics avoid clichés and can be like puzzle pieces as you try to decipher the meaning within the passages. He sings; “In muzak-quiet consulting rooms / Science has a story of the mind / I like his desk-clock at right angles / With the smooth imitation timber framed portrait.”
His lyric style reminded me of Bon Iver in that they both deliver lines that leave me scratching my head as to what is the bigger meaning (if anything) behind these riddles. One of the highlights on the album is “Weeds” in which I was at least able to figure out it was about a relationship with a female while “Bent Piano” is a sparse piano ballad that places Bonsack’s voice front and center.
Before the album comes to a close he throws in a couple of more upbeat folk rock songs such as “Paper Dolls” and “Damned Poets” and another piano ballad with angelic vocal harmonies called “A Deep Forget.”
The Sky That Came Before is a solid album with a fair amount of good songs. Bonsack isn't breaking any barriers with the music but he certainly has put time and effort into making poetic lyrics that are creative and inventive.
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