I have been enjoying Lyons based Monica Marie LaBonte’s beautiful, emotion packed voice for a long time and am sonically pleased to hear a solo record from her. After the breakup of her fine band Monocle last year she decided it was time for her to write songs all for herself. A modern-day troubadour, she creates folk songs relevant to today but steeped in nostalgia.
After graduating college, she realized a career in music was possible and she went for it. Some of her first memories around five years old were remembering her Mom playing and singing to her and being enthralled by it all. In high school she found music to be a way to get through life’s ups and downs.
This five song EP will bring a smile to your face and good feelings to your soul, something we all could use in these trying times. Recorded at Aaron Youngblood’s studio with Wiggs and Monica co-producing and a fine group of supporting musicians, like Eric Thorin on bass, percussion Kevin Matthews, Monica on Wurlitzer piano, and Wiggs playing everything else you hear. Good Ju Ju provided by son Cadence in Utero.
She starts with “Any Old Day,” a song in which LaBonte beautifully mourns her grandmother’s passing, someone who means so much to her. Thorin and Matthews lay down a pulsing rhythm, and Wiggs adds some fine harmony singing here, and Monica’s piano fits in so well.
“River Song,” Monica said, “is a step in a new direction in terms of writing and sound and every time I listen to it, I feel sparkly and excited about moving forward as a solo artist. It’s also a song about seeing others’ pain and saying. ‘I’m here. I see you. I love you.’ This is a message that I desperately needed in my lowest of times, so it’s an offering for those who need it”.
“The Haunt” reminds me of an old English folk song. Monica’s voice shines on this one, as does Wiggs’ acoustic guitar playing. “Loving You” is a young love song in Colorado with jaunty Dobro, and fine singing by Monica and Wiggs.
In “Tall Pines,” Monica talks about “moving from the dark, cold, wintry mountains of Colorado to the hot, sticky, sweaty South in the heat of summer, to Alabama. In Alabama, I worked at a camp for children and adults with disabilities and it transformed my life — and changed the course of my path in school and passions. The contrast between the cold of mountains to the smothering heat of the south went hand-in-hand with my life and work experiences in each place as well. These places, and this specific time in my life, cut me in a deep and loving way and I knew one day I would have to put it into song”.
We are so lucky that she did it in this pleasant and remarkable piece of music available on her website: Monicamariemusic.com.