Haley Bonar's whiskey-flask folk is all about big dreams and bigger skies. The 20-year-old South Dakota native's pastoral musings are rural and restless. "I can't settle down for shit," she testifies on . . . The Size of Planets, her debut -- a dusky drinking album that'll make you weak in the knees and the liver. Bonar's voice is delicate, demanding, and as sun-kissed as her freckled face. "Don't tell me about your picket fence, your darling, loving wife," she implores on "Out of the Lake." "Please just give me a glass of red wine and a six-steel-string guitar/If you want to preach the good life, meet me at the bar."
Cleveland's Brian Straw shares Bonar's affinity for bucolic blues. He's been fleshing out his free-range ruminations with Kent's Six Parts Seven lately, and the early results are stunning: Straw's voice, which quivers like an infant's upper lip, is enlivened by piano and chimes, creating fresh new sounds with as much depth as the emotions that spawned them.