Get excited: “Big Star” is firm evidence that Bonar is ready to rise up.

The young songstress is quickly erecting what should be a solid career

Jay Boller

Become an Instant Music Snob: Haley Bonar Hometown: Rapid City, SD. Current Scene:Minneapolis Genre(s): Folk, folk-rock, singer-songwriter, alt-country Releases: “âĦ The Size of Planets” (2003), “Lure the Fox” (2006), “Big Star” (2008) Toured with: Low, Andrew Bird, Mason Jennings Fun fact: Dropped out of college for an opportunity to open for respected Duluth band Low. Compares to: Aimee Mann, Shawn Colvin, Elliott Smith, Jenny Lewis In typical indie fashion, it can be reasonably assumed that the title of Haley Bonar’s new album “Big Star” is a sarcastic swipe at her own current underground dwelling. In the indie realm, irony = hilarious/credible. Just look at every LCD Soundsystem song title. Problem is, if Bonar’s album was titled with tongue firmly in cheek, the success it yields may very well make it a reality. SoundScan numbers aside, “Big Star” is a very good album and “Big Star” is going to be big, very big.

On “Big Star,” the listener is provided with the always-satisfying opportunity of hearing a talented songwriter hitting their stride. Previous efforts downplayed accessibility in favor of sparse arrangements and an emphasis on introspection. Those elements are evident on her latest, but it’s the disc’s pop numbers that truly shine. There’s the country stomp of “Highway 16,” the wailing and crunching guitars on “Queen of Everything” and the obscenely sticky hook that is the chorus of “Something Great.”

The best representation of who Bonar is may just come on the title track. Underneath the top arrangements, there are musical meanderings straight out of “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot,” but it’s Bonar’s charging vocals and brisk guitar strumming that truly drive the song. If the album has a flaw, it’s the occasional lyrical dullness – “Mayday/Sorry ’bout the weather/Hold me/Closer than ever” – from “Mayday” is an infrequent example. That said, at its best, Bonar’s songwriting is ripe with wit and sentimentality. And for the overwhelming majority of the record, those attributes shine.

The album almost recounts her journey to where she is now. The foot-stomping folk-rock numbers are ideal road trip music for the long, flat country roads that connect Rapid City to Duluth. The chamber-pop introspections mesh perfectly with the cold of Duluth and the friendship with likeminded Low. And finally, the seamless meshing of the two represents the self realization she’s experiencing now in Minneapolis.

To be releasing a third full-length album at the age of 25 is a feat. To do so as the songwriter, guitarist, Rhodes pianist and producer? Well, that’s another sort of feat entirely. For those keen on sniffing out the Next Big Things, be well advised of Bonar. With Neko Case , Feist and Cat Power all finding national fame, there’s little to indicate Minnesota’s adopted daughter can’t arrive at the same sort of success and become, well, a pretty big star.