Album of the week: Bonniesongs – Energetic Mind

No idea is a bad idea in the mind of Bonnie Stewart (Bonniesongs). The Irish art-folk virtuoso hits record on voice notes whenever one makes itself known and believes from there, it’s just about coming back to it and giving it time. It’s a mindset that permeates her debut ‘Energetic Mind’; with repetition and expansion each song grows from something foetal and sparse to something adult and full. Stewart rebuilds from the inside-out, following the music wherever it goes, with us for company on her endlessly entertaining, endlessly surprising voyage.

Stewart is a student of music, she’s a graduate in jazz performance on drums. And this natural musicianship paired with her unique musical mind means that despite all the twists and turns, the music quite simply just makes sense, the genre-shift arriving at just the right moment, the upping in speed coming exactly when required. 

‘Energetic Mind’ treads a perilous tightrope between light and dark. Stewart claims to not take herself too seriously and that playfulness is evident. The infectious ‘Coo Coo’ is the visualisation of a cuckoo coming out its clock, “and just having a good time”, while ‘Ice Cream’, a song quite literally about enjoying ice cream with friends, is served with a chorus that goes “I like vanilla”.  

These carefree summer days are combatted with ominous winter gloom. ‘Barbara’ broods over a nervewracking, uneasy cello, while ‘Frank’ utilises an air-raid synth to warn a population of a creature on its way.

This ability to chop and change in both theme and sound is what makes ‘Energetic Mind’ such an entertaining listen – it goes so fast! On ‘Coo Coo’ Stewart sings “I could be anybody, I don’t mind”. And ‘Energetic Mind’ is a glorious, befogging introduction to Stewart’s various selfs.

Bonniesongs plays Balloon Machine Presents at The Castle Hotel on Sunday September 22 along with Natalie Evans and Tea Leaf.

Energetic Mind is out now on Small Pond Recording

4 Responses

  1. Dave

    Well put, that’s an excellent review of this astounding work. I had the good fortune of being in Dublin for the album launch. I was astonished. I thought the album was miraculous, but seeing the band perform such intimate music live was life changing. I booked my ticket months in advance and was truly surprised there were still tickets available at the door, and so I was even able to get right to the front of the crowd to absorb the amazing performance fully. Dublin doesn’t know what talent they’ve got. More people need to hear this album.


      1. Dave

        I cried. I’ve never cried at a performance before. Home and Energetic Minds are heart wrenchingly beautiful live. It’s hard to pick a favourite track but Cuckoo and Barbara are forever part of me now.


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