Review – Bonneville’s Self Titled Debut

Written by Sam Wood –  Writer, Composer – Muscle Shoals, AL

The newest soul sensation, Bonneville, has arrived. With the release of their debut, self-titled album, ‘Bonneville,’ their sound is now available for everyone to experience. Let’s take a quick look at what that sounds like for us.

Bonneville has a classic tone to their presence. It’s smooth, it’s tasteful, and – most importantly – it can be looked back on as a solid reference to a beloved art style. To be an example of soul, there must be a sense of self-awareness. This allows the expression of pain, redemption, and any other feelings or emotions that would traditionally be awkward for conversation to come off as natural. The world of soul puts this raw subject matter on display for everyone to see; while being backed by rich compositions of hearty horns, grooving percussion, and on occasion,  a wicked guitar riff. Knowing the general idea of what their inspired sound was, Bonneville chose Hit Recording Capital of the World, Muscle Shoals, Alabama, to record their first album. Front men, Wes McGee (Vocals) and Jeff Hayashi (Lead Guitar), also brought in international producer and Grammy recognized artist, Starita. Starita was able to hone in his own skill and insight, which resulted in a flourished studio record. Another way Bonneville achieves this is by borrowing a few players from the world renowned, FAME Gang, local to Muscle Shoals.

One special thing that makes Bonneville absolute rock stars is their desire to bring their fans along every step of the way.

Now for the music itself… It’s nothing to scoff at. Immediately with track #1, titled ‘66 Bonneville,’ the listener is met with the sound of pure groove and funk. With a ‘big band’ approach to this song, there’s a good deal of moving parts that are all in sync with each other to create a whirlpool of southern soul. As the opening to the record, it is an accurate example as to what to expect from the album. Not to mention the several breakdowns within this single track: a drum roll, a saxophone performance, a guitar highlight, and a small jam session all happening in the span of 4 minutes. This song is wild y’all!

To emphasize the dexterity of the band, we’ll move to song #3, ‘Held You.’ This song is a different pace compared to the rest of the album; a bit slower in tempo and moving more towards Blues with just a dash of Americana. The subject matter is also a bit more sentimental, really putting the listener in an intimate zone with the band. Warm, soft keys float the song through the pains of love, while still acknowledging the beauty of a past relationship. An acoustic guitar can be heard guiding along the melody and rhythm, holding up the integrity of the song while referencing a more ‘rootsy’ sound.


Now, I can’t give away the entire album. I’ll leave you with one of my personal favorites; track #5, ‘Evil to the Touch.’ This is the epitome of ‘less is more.’ The song opens with an infectious riff that develops into the core of the track. It’s one of those songs that if you turn it up loud enough, you instinctively make that ‘stank face’… You know the one. Throughout the song, there’s a looming feeling of dirty, grimy, funk; maybe even greasy to some. It resembles something you would hear late at night in the bar that your mom told you to stay away from. Just to run this aesthetic all the way home, the song closes out with one of the nastiest guitar tones of the whole album.

One special thing that makes Bonneville absolute rock stars is their desire to bring their fans along every step of the way. Between real footage of the recording process and in-depth discussions on inspiration and execution, fans have no shortage of content to really dive into. It feels like a sincere and intimate invitation to come along for the ride, wherever that may take them. This makes for an immersive experience that is sometimes overlooked or viewed as tedious, but nothing is too much for Bonneville as they try time and time again to deliver a rock-solid product to their audience. In all it’s a beautiful thing, and Bonneville has the magic potion figured out.

Bonneville has my respect, for they’re doing something that is meaningful through and through. It is evident that they have exchanged spirit for a rockin’ record. Take a trip through the world of Bonneville and listen to their new album anywhere you stream music today. Bonneville, give us a lil’ more.

“Hard To Love Official Music Video” Tam Starita -Creative Director / Ingrid Serban – Editor

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