Separate Rooms, the third full-length album from Toronto singer-songwriter Megan Bonnell, is the timely and bold statement of a self-assured woman navigating an increasingly dark and perplexing world. Bonnell has never been easily pigeon-holed into the predictable mold of the singer-songwriter and Separate Rooms embraces this edict, turning traditional musical genres on their heads. With her hallmark honesty, Bonnell effortlessly tackles such intense subject matter as mental illness, early pregnancy loss, and the dissolution of love. But, the new album is also a contradiction – it’s a lover’s appeal for space and independence and, at the same time, a desperate yearning for young and innocent love.
Within its songs, Separate Rooms offers Bonnell’s raw account of some of life’s most profound moments. “Breakdown”, the upbeat album opener, embraces the blurred lines between sanity and insanity and challenges the sexist notion that emotional women are somehow unstable or crazy. “Separate Rooms”, the album’s title track and a co-write with Donovan Woods, is the mature realization that true love carries with it as much loneliness as it does companionship.
Despite the personal nature of the album’s lyrics, the production of Separate Rooms was a largely collaborative process. Joining the production team of Chris Stringer and Joshua Van Tassel, Bonnell manages to meld anthemic pop appeal with the textured, layered nuances of 70’s new wave, epic alt-rock ballads of the 90’s, and traditional folk craftsmanship.
Bonnell’s debut album, Hunt and Chase was a whimsical journey of growth from her rural Ontario upbringing to her emergence as one of the most unique voices in Toronto’s established independent music scene. Magnolia, Bonnell’s second release, was a considerably darker and sonically expansive work which painfully and expertly dissected the themes of love, and more importantly, love lost. Thematically, Separate Rooms treads even further into difficult emotional territory, finding Bonnell at her most vulnerable but also her most courageous. Musically, the album is nuanced and meticulously executed; the cohesive creation of collaborators obsessed with the idea of making something original and important.
Megan Bonnell is quickly becoming one of Canada’s leading voices as a songwriter, performer, and artist. A two-time Canadian Folk Music Award nominee, Megan has spent the last three years touring Canada, the US, and making groundbreaking debut performances at European festivals including BIME Live Festival in Bilbao, the Barcelona Jazz Festival, and The End Festival in London.