Bonjay
Lush Life

by Jim Di Gioia

June 4, 2018

Bonjay has gifted listeners a sophisticated, soulful blend of R&B, dancehall, and electro-pop melodies.

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Cities breathe, cities sleep, and cities die. Cities have souls — an intangible essence that’s felt but not seen. A city’s soul manifests itself through its citizens, through the stories that connect and define them. Those individual stories, as Toronto-based duo Bonjay intrinsically understand, have a common theme: the struggle to build identity, to leave a legacy; to create something that didn’t exist before.

Lush Life, Alanna Stuart and Ian Swain’s long-awaited debut, is a city of songs built on labour and precision planning. The pair have said that their follow-up to 2010’s Broughtupsy EP could have been released much sooner if it weren’t for the sense that Bonjay “didn’t feel ready in terms of where we knew we could be, what our vision was, and what our skills are. And so we gave ourselves the gift of time to fill that gap.”

In turn, Bonjay has gifted listeners a sophisticated, soulful blend of R&B, dancehall, and electro-pop melodies. Stuart’s voices slips into each song’s story, investing her performance with lived experience, empathy, and connection. The dancehall influence is evident on “Medicine for Melancholy” and “Chelsea” and embodies the struggle of city living, of moving to an external beat that sometimes feels out of step with your internal one. The result is a new beat and rhythm, a stylistic shift that feels fresh and exciting.

A new story takes shape.

Jim Di Gioia

CoFounder at DOMINIONATED.ca
Jim founded the music blog Quick Before It Melts in 2006 and was its principal writer until 2016, when its decade-long run ended 10 years to the day it started. DOMINIONATED is its spiritual successor. Jim currently serves as a Polaris Music Prize jurist and Prism Prize jurist.

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