Haley is not a new person. It's a new truncated name for Haley Bonar (now McCallum). But it is a new sound for the Minnesota based artist who has used her name change to make a bold move by removing all vocals from her music. Bold because her music was pretty much based around her golden throated melodies. Instead you get synth driven music with lots of nods back to Brian Eno. God knows how it will affect her career and whether this will be a permanent move but it's nice to see an artist taking a few chances.
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It's been quite the ride for the former Haley Bonar. From staying on my sofa whilst touring the UK in the mid 2000s (have I mentioned that before?) to being closely related to the Minnesotan likes of Low to becoming a breakout alt country star with the 6 Music playlisted 'Last War'. Every time you think you have her pegged she seems to up a gear and do something more unexpected...and successful.
So I'm approaching this album of ambient pieces and synth driven electronica with caution. It's very pretty but what I was going to say is that it's wholly inconsequential because literally everyone dabbles in this kind of soundtrack-ready instrumental music these days. 'Give Yourself Away' is pure chocolate box Dustin O' Halloran, so sweet and sticky you are completely glad when the distorted guitars of 'Syrup' create something of an edge. It's probably not Haley's fault that I can't take any more post Max Richter saccharine neo-classical pieces and there's a lot of that here - but there's some nice moments too like the sax in 'Pig Latin' - a different texture and much appreciated by my ear.
It's seemingly a strange career move but basically what she's done here is write a soundtrack and we know that if you can get on that train you are laughing. The reason I approach this with caution is because I'm used to Haley proving me wrong and what if this does catapult her away from alt country into the Johannsson, Richter, O'Halloran world of Hollywood tie ups? Well if so you heard it here first.
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