Toronto-based singer/songwriter Megan Bonnell released her sophomore album, Magnolia,via MapleMusic Recordings,ealier this year and is now busy heading out on tour. The record, which was produced once again by Chris Stringer (The Wooden Sky, Timber Timbre) and Joshua Van Tassel (David Myles, Gypsophilia), holds within it a very specific time in her life and features 11 new songs, including the first single, "Can’t Have You." Magan shares, "Magnolia started to take shape back in 2013. I was touring my first album Hunt and Chase and as I did, new songs started to arrive, and thank goodness for that. It was in the making of this record that I was able to make a certain kind of sense of the world around me. Love came and went, and then came again, and my family found itself blessed by the birth of my beautiful sister's first little girl. Things were changing. I wanted to move forward, but I didn't want time to diminish history's meaning.” Magnolia is noted as "dynamic, and emotionally endowed." Its songs are honest, and do not steer away from being raw and vulnerable. The album opener, "Can't Have You" carries traces of Bob Dylan romanticism. Like a handwritten love letter, it is a tender plea to let love go, "Lay me down if I can't have you, Let me go if there's nothing more that I can do." And towards the album's end, waits sleeping giant, "Dynamite". Be sure to catch Bonnell on tour, as well as noteworthy festivals across North America such as Taste of Toronto, Field Trip Music Festival, and Gateway Festival.
What is the most creative, spiritual or emotional place in Toronto?
High Park. I take my dog there most mornings. It's an enormous park with ponds, streams and rolling hills. It's such a peaceful place. Growing up in Caledon originally, I often miss being surrounded by nature. High Park fills that void for me, and it's steps away from my home! I will often take a new album I haven't heard, for its first listen while walking there. It’s a great place to reflect and slow things down.
What is your favorite outdoor activity in Toronto?
It’s hard to narrow it down to just one! I love going for jogs through different neighbourhoods. There are such beautiful streets in the city with big old trees and homes chalked full of character. Running is really just an excuse to take it all in...the colors, the gardens, the people on their porches. It makes the city feel like a small town. I also love walking to get coffee (and croissants) at Cherry Bomb in Roncesvalles and then strolling up the main drag. There are so many great independent grocers and shops and everyone is really friendly. Almost all of the places keep a stash of dog-treats. My dog Dave has the treat locations memorized. He will never let us just walk by. It’s pretty adorable, on both ends!
What is your favorite indoor activity in Toronto?
I have gotten VERY into the Raptors the past 3 seasons. Going to games is always so much fun. It's electric! Toronto has kickass sports fans. I also love going out for dinner in this city. Every week it feels like there is a new delicious restaurant to try out. A go-to for me is Bellwoods Brewery. I worked there when they first opened up, and the beer is fantastic. The space is so open and casual feeling. It’s a great spot to hunker down and catch up with friends.
What is your favorite sound or noise in Toronto?
Two of my close friends put on a music festival in Bellwoods Park every summer called, Great Heart Festival. It’s so well curated and has such a grassroots feel. Friends, fans and people passing by gather on the grass hill and soak in the beautiful sounds and sunshine. I think that is a sound that fills my heart with happiness. It’s the sound of summer.
What is your favorite smell or taste in Toronto?
Taste might have to be the Drake burger. I stand by it being the best in the city.
What drink best reflects Toronto?
“The Ella” at Ella’s Uncle. It’s a double shot cappuccino with maple syrup. It’s basically what heaven tastes like. I think it reflects Toronto because the shop is on Dundas West and it gets a real mix of customers: artists, teachers, business people, architects, students. The area is cosmopolitan but the shop makes you feel like you’re standing in your mom’s kitchen. The Ella has a double shot of espresso, so it packs a punch, but the maple syrup brings comfort and softness to it. I think Toronto is edgy and fast paced, but it’s also got such wonderful little communities within it (like Ella’s) that make you feel at home.
What song or type of music best reflects Toronto?
It’s hard to narrow it down because the city is so diverse. It really plays into so many different genres. But for me, walking down into the Dakota Tavern and watching The Beauties play a set would feel like a real Toronto night. Also, these days, Drake is really hard to separate from Toronto, musically. He’s branding the city, and the city is branding him. I think it’s pretty cool!
If Heaven were Toronto, what would God say to a visitor when they arrive at the Pearly Gates?
Eat, drink, and be merry. But most of all, be kind!