Blair Howerton started songwriting as a coping mechanism during her formative years. Her vivid lyricism has bloomed into the dazzling, full-band emotional release known as Why Bonnie. The band’s Fat Possum Records debut EP, Voice Box, celebrates unhindered expression via beguiling, propulsive guitar pop.
In a decisive step to start performing her backlogged material, Howerton moved back home to Texas after graduating college in 2015. In Austin, Howerton joined lifelong best friend Kendall Powell, who she met in preschool. Powell’s classical piano chops swapped to synth for the new project. Both active in the Austin scene, guitarist Sam Houdek and bassist Chance Williams later joined to complete the lineup.
In 2018, the band emerged on petite indie outlet Sports Day Records with In Water. The EP eulogized Howerton’s older brother, who passed away years prior. Intimately bristling tracks explored the grieving process, introducing the group’s uncanny ability to stir up huge catharsis in a seamless rise. Follow-up Nightgown expanded the effort, pulling lush Mazzy Star and Cranberries influences. Embarking on their first DIY tour the same year, Why Bonnie quickly landed opening runs for the like-minded sounds of Snail Mail and Beach Fossils.
The sum of those experiences culminates in the sweeping, layered rock sound of third EP, Voice Box. Fuzzed-out guitars and crystalline vocals drive a tough-edged struggle in the space between suppression and artistic liberty. Howerton explains: “It encapsulates a disconnect between my inner and outer world, and not being able to express myself authentically because of that. But, ultimately knowing I will crash and burn if I don’t.”
The intense effort isn’t always pretty. The title track fumes with quiet wisdom, urging: “I know it’s easier to bury your uncertainties in a cloud of masculinity / Guess it’s the curse you bear to talk over me.” Breeders-inspired “Athlete” endeavors self-doubt in a blistering metaphor of failed sportsmanship. Fiery “No Caves” rises to a forceful album finale, unleashing the full windswept power of Howerton’s vocals, padded by Houdek. Of the ending ascent, the lead singer decides: “It’s about the freedom of realizing that you can’t hide anymore. You have to put yourself out there.”