Bonfire Orchestra scores with debut album

By Reviewed by Sheena Barnett

Bonfire Orchestra’s music is all about heart: sometimes it’s breaking, sometimes it’s full of love.

The 13 tracks on the band’s first full-length album, “The Well and The Water,” are 13 stories of the heart, with the soundtrack being the band’s folky sound.

There’s plenty of pain, anger and heartbreak, like the opening song, “Lay Me Low” and the single “Bombs.” There are love songs, like “Only Way to Learn.” But the best part is when things are a bit happy and a bit sad, and the mood turns both realistic and bittersweet on tracks like “Twice on Sunday,” “Mr. Darcy” and “Ever After.”

With so many different emotions so sincerely portrayed, any listener can find a song that could very well be their life story.

It’s as though the band’s principal songwriter, Michael Thomas, knows that even the sweetest love stories have a bit of tension in them, and he shows that in his bittersweet songs.

On the gentle “(fresh) Water,” he sings, “Though your voice is dark like tomorrow, hope will be our light to see all that water can reach.”

While the lyrics meander around the heart’s goings-on, cellist Courtney Grace Kinzer and percussionist and pianist Dayton Cooper add a new flavor to Thomas’ folky guitar. They both do a terrific job of making the music match the mood of the lyrics, and with Thomas’ intense stories, that’s quite a feat. In some songs, the lyrics tell one story, with Kinzer and Cooper’s instruments filling in the story left unsaid.

Cooper handles both percussion and piano, often simultaneously, and sometimes you wish the guy had plenty of solos. Kinzer shines in the background, always quiet but always pitch perfect.

For fans who are familiar with Bonfire Orchestra’s sound, there will be no surprises on “The Well and The Water,” but that’s a good thing. “The Well and The Water” what the band does best: playing intimate, emotional folk, quite beautifully.

This is Bonfire Orchestra at its best.

“The Well and The Water” is available at Bonfire Orchestra shows, and via the band’s site at bonfireorchestra.com.