Why Bonnie – 90 In November (Keeled Scales)

Why Bonnie – 90 In November (Keeled Scales)

Three years ago, Blair Howerton, principal songwriter and singer with the Texas quintet Why Bonnie, relocated from Austin to Brooklyn and the songs that feature on the band’s debut album 90 In November were mostly written in that New York City borough. The emotional impact of that major life change was then compounded by the onset of the coronavirus pandemic and its associated restrictions. In many respects, the ten songs on the record serve as a love letter to the Lone Star state sent from a place many miles and seemingly light years away and are informed by Howerton’s heightened feelings of yearning, dislocation, and isolation.

90 In November heaves into view with ‘Sailor Mouth’, its stark, languorous sound just spills out of the speakers and reminds this listener of a female American Bill Ryder-Jones such is its unassuming, low-key nature. ‘Galveston’ and ‘Nowhere, LA’ (a reference to Louisiana, the southeastern U.S. state on the Gulf of Mexico) drip with an unashamed nostalgia replete with memories both good and bad. Something darker clearly underpins Blair Howerton’s desire to return home yet it is deep within these shadows that the emotional balance of the songs lies.

The effortless ease with which ‘Hot Car’ moves along the interstate only seems to magnify Howerton’s longing to return to the southern places and climes with which she is familiar and clearly more comfortable. The album’s imperious title track continues with this quest for home, its lilting melody picking up momentum as it matches strides with the rise in Fahrenheit. It puts me in mind of Pavement at their most disconsolate.

Blair Howerton is joined in Why Bonnie by Kendall Powell (keyboards), Sam Houdek (guitar), Chance Williams (bass guitar), and Josh Malett (drums). They had initially thought about making 90 In November in New York or California, but ultimately opted to record it at Lazybones Audio in the Texan town of Silsbee – honoured by getting a song on the album named after it – with Tommy Read at the production helm.  You feel it was undoubtedly the correct decision to make as for all the intense longing that lies at its heart, 90 In November also captures a true Texan sense of freedom and adventure.

90 In November by Why Bonnie is released on 19th November 2022 via Keeled Scales

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