A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM
"...James Bunton’s delightful sound design aptly conjures the whimsical spells afoot with short songs punctuating certain scenes – one sweet number that gets repeated a few times later in the show features a super-catchy hook that’s almost too good not to be turned into something more substantial..."
"...It's rare to witness an artist emerge fully formed, but with Breakwall, Simpson offers the good stuff right out of the gate. Her fine guitar work and heartrending vocal performances anchor the sweeping production by James Bunton. The pain and experience of these songs are driven into the soul by Simpson's voice, which glides from soothing to searing in a single line."
"Heading east over Wellington, I stumbled on Cascade, a project that for some reason had failed to pop up on my radar. I'm not sure what the long, narrow, high-ceilinged warehouse is ordinarily used for, but Anandam Dancetheatre made it into a magical space. Ten or more performers climbed, hung and swung from ropes as a delicate light show played over the dim walls to a slow soundtrack. There was no reparation between the performers and the audience, who sat against walls or around support pillars or moved among the athletic climbers. It embodied a hallucinatory, dreamlike state perfect for the wee hours of Nuit Blanche."
"I was spellbound and becalmed by this 12-hour immersive meditation featuring stately aerial rope work, stunning projections and atmospheric music in the old Globe and Mail Press Hall. AD's Brandy Leary is now on my watch list for 2015."
"#38...There’s a reason country singers like Charles Kelley and Charlie Worsham have cut Donovan Woods’ songs: he’s got a knack for slice-of-life storytelling that blends heartache and hooks. On his fifth album Both Ways, the Canadian folkie expands his horizons with bigger productions, turning the monotony of touring life into cinematic, sweeping rock & roll on “Truck Full of Money” and evoking the synth-soaked mid-Eighties work of Bruce Springsteen in the blue-collar anthem “Easy Street.” Even when he returns to quieter territory, it’s still high drama — he can’t help but look back in “I Ain’t Never Loved No One” or examine his failings in “Good Lover,” casually dishing out devastating couplets that never feel gratuitous. In “Next Year,” Woods deals with the stealthy passage of time by recalling the many ways he’s put off something meaningful like hanging out with his own son. As with the best of his work, it’ll take your breath away.”
"...Giving him a leg up in that regard is James Bunton, a burgeoning Toronto producer who helmed Woods' prior releases, but pulls out all the stops on Both Ways. Bunton gives otherwise straightforward singer-songwriter number "Read About Memory" a chilling twist by distorting Woods' vocals until they sound like a ghost's rasp emitting from a rusty ham radio. Better still is the angelic Cousins entry on "I Ain't Ever Loved No One," which Bunton wisely brings forth without warning, giving listeners a fresh foil to Woods gritty delivery.
With that robust production, Woods finally has a backdrop that lives up to his vivid lyricism. You won't just be won over by Woods' Steinbeck-esque eye for blue collar details on "Easy Street," or his moving love letter lyrics on "Burn That Bridge." You'll also be captivated by the grand instrumentation on those tracks. Indeed, Donovan Woods doesn't just write like a superstar on Both Ways — he finally sounds like one too."
"...Donovan Woods has written those kinds of songs before, but he’s never put so many of them on one album as he does on Both Ways. It’s his most consistent, best-sequenced, and all around finest album yet. It’s also his most varied. Woods has always excelled at acoustic ballads, but he’s never made a song as big and bombastic as “Truck Full of Money,” or one that rocks quite as much as “Easy Street.” Even the acoustic songs have some flourishes that we haven’t heard from Woods before, like “Read about Memory,” which sounds like a radio broadcast from the distant past..."
"It's been two years since Donovan Woods released the album Hard Settle, Ain't Troubled. Fans need not wait any longer for the follow-up full-length effort. Both Ways, produced by James Bunton, is set for release on 20 April through Meant Well. This new endeavor features Woods' poignant storytelling backed by transcendently affectional music. Twelve tracks in length, the album exhibits Woods' musical thumbprint. Yet Woods also offers skillful musical experimentation and variation that still cultivates listeners' emotional investment...."
"Concerning the various moods created on Both Ways, credit is certainly due to producer/co-mixing engineer/contributing musician, James Bunton, who was also at the desk for Woods’ award-winning 2016 effort, Hard Settle, Ain’t Troubled."
"...those new songwriting perspectives, in addition to the album's lusher instrumental textures - the forlorn fiddles and pedal steel, in particular, complement Woods' gentle vocals perfectly - make Hard Settle, Ain't Troubled distinct in the Donovan Woods discography. Most importantly, the co-writers and extra instrumentation don't detract from Woods' authorial voice...the expansive sonic palette that's displayed on Hard Settle, Ain't Troubled makes the songs feel more welcoming and warm - even when, lyrically, they kind of aren't..."
"...music's most interesting point of contention is the one between mainstream and alt country, which aren't so much branches of the same genre as completely opposed M.O.'s, with detractors dismissing one as twangy pop and the other as rusty traditionalism. Few artists can pull off straddling that divide like Donovan Woods, but he does it time and again on his new LP, Hard Settle, Ain't Troubled....Woods is not above the occasionally surging flourish that so many of his Nashville pals are known for; he just knows how to use those dramatic shifts to greater effect...By balancing such fringe and mainstream elements so effortlessly, Woods looks poised to finally bring those disparate camps together..."
"Hard Settle, Ain't Troubled is his most solid album in a catalogue full of them...more instrumentation than on previous albums lends weights to Woods' ever-present acoustic guitar, as on the pedal steel breeze of May 21, 2012 or the bells and strings of Parkdale-referencing soft-rock hi On The Nights You Stay Home..."
Ride The Tempo's Top Canadian Albums of 2016 by Jonas Cornelsen, Ride The Tempo (January 15, 2017)
"#08 : Hard Settle is the perfect combination of heartfelt storytelling and world-class production. Wood's lyrics show his prowess as a country songwriter, but his musical style trades annoying twang for rich bass and palm-muted acoustic guitars."
"This is a great, poetic, musically ambient postcard from the wilderness that deserves to get Bonnetta's unique voice widely noticed."
"Recorded with James Bunton in Bonnetta's rural Perth-area studio, the songs are as reflective and melancholy as ever, still circling around themes of loss and searching, but with even more poignant lyrics and newfound drive. Sonic details are plentiful and effective: uplifting backup vocals by Sylvie Smith, touches of strings and stately piano, alluringly atmospheric guitar and electronic experimentation."
"...Bonnetta and Bunton's combined talents make for a gorgeous sounding record that doesn't waste a space, a second or a note. It clocks in at a smooth 40 minutes without the listener feeling like they're missing a thing."
"...Where Spectral Dusk was characterized by moody, atmospheric production in the spirit of Daniel Lanois, Quiet Energies delivers a healthy dose of four-minute rock songs paying direct homage to Tom Petty, with a handful of Neil Young & Crazy Horse distortion-drenched guitar solos thrown in for good measure."
"...The album was recorded in a log cabin in Perth, Ontario, with musicians recruited from friends including The Wooden Sky and Timber Timbre, and recorded by sonic genius James Bunton. The sound is predominantly acoustic, with sparing use of electric guitars and keyboards and the sound of the woods and the lake. As a work of art it's a memorial and an assertion of the writer's growing awareness of himself as a man. Drawn from pain, it's a musical and artistic triumph..."
"...Spectral Dusk is the sound of pain alchemised into something beautiful and redemptive."
"...What Bonnetta has created is a deeply evocative document of the sheer impossibility of getting over such a profound loss..."
"...A marked growth from the already fantastic Spirit Guides, the songs find the band introducing new textures that extend past the boundaries of traditional folk. Electronic undercurrents, cacophonous swells of horns and surprising distortion all add to the pain and anger Jonas felt, but Evening Hymns perfectly pairs that turbulence with moments of beauty, harmony and cinematic instrumentation to lessen the weight of the record as Jonas tries to celebrate life, not just mourn death."
"I need to re-state that the production on this record is stellar. I can imagine the amount of time it took to mix in the various riffs, vocal lines, harmonies, effects, and more effects. I'm sure this was a labour of love for the band, mixing engineer / producer, James Bunton, and mastering engineer, Joao Carvalho."
"The record is lushly produced...the sonic cues throughout Sugar are planted firmly in dark progressive new wave of a distinctly 80s vintage, while also playing with influences culled from more current electronic production trends...Sugar gives fans of modern electronic pop a lot to like. With its focused, literate and unironically committed approach to the genre's soundscape, it's as grounded and solid a record as anything that has come out this year from bands who have already graduated to headliner status."
"While everything sot of generally falls under the rubric of synth-pop, the eclecticism on Sugar sets them far apart from contemporaries. The arrangements are unique, the songs are layered and are unified by Meredith's versatile and strong vocal performance. If you're looking for an album that's going to convince you to leave your phone at home the next time you head out into the night, this is most definitely it."
THE HIDDEN CAMERAS
"...Age is Gibb's coming-of-age story, weaving a narrative that shows an experimental side of the frontman we've never seen before... Top Track: Ordinary Over You."
IN COMPLETE CYCLES
"...James Bunton's original score, with its contrasting textures, from an electronic wall of sound to a steady drumming, to lyrical guitar and violin passages, illuminates the dance."
"...James Bunton (Ohbijou, Diamond Rings) produced the album, and really brought Jon's best musical traits alive, methodically, over a two-year period of recording..."
"...These songs are rich with texture, warmed and comforted by Fortin's perfect, soaring vocals. Magnificent production from producer/engineer James Bunton (Ohbijou, Evening Hymns, Diamond Rings, PS I Love You) ensures that a richly layered harmony, a surprising guitar part or a thick note from Fortin never overpowers the landscape of the song, but completes it..."
"The final track ‘Reset/Outro’ has an Amy Millan ‘The Five Ghosts’ quality about it, and with its subtle strings and the swaying atmospheric crescendo; it’s is one of the best tracks we’ve heard this year..."
"When Toronto folk-pop band Forest City Lovers disbanded last year, Kat Burns leapt into the electro-pop solo project Kashka, whose promising debut album got a big hand from producer/musician James Bunton..."
"...teamed up with Bunton’s muscular beats and percussion, dynamic synth lines and smartly constructed arrangements, the result is completely fresh (and fierce)."
KELLY McMICHAEL & THE GLOSS
"...The production, courtesy of James Bunton (who has recently worked with The Wooden Sky and Evening Hymns) has a thrumming warmth that plays off the EP's enthusiasm and softness perfectly. The record's sound evokes the way everything holds heat in the summer months, a kind of bodily warmth that makes even inanimate objects seem to have beating hearts..."
"The use of sound by designer James Bunton is excellent and exciting throughout."
"Face is direct and heavy on hooks, in the form of both Regina's one-line earworms and Bunton's instrumental flares..."
"I hear people describe some musicians as 'the hardest working person' in music, but if you ask me, no one can hold a candle to James Bunton... Bunton, along with the traffic-stopping Regina The Gentlelady have fashioned a forward-thinking electro-pop record that's so in-your-face, they've had to call it FACE..."
SHAWN WILLIAM CLARKE
"...It's hard to resist Shawn William Clarke's charms. His 2014 record, William, was a warm, impressionist mural that hypnotized critics and slow-dancers alike, and now, the Toronto-based singer-songwriter returns with TOPAZ. It boasts an updated sound — think ambient folk meets abstract expressionism — but has the same entrancingly lovely songwriting and feel...TOPAZ is gorgeous, lush and intimate...Clarke is a master of nuance, simplified use of instrumentation and luminosity through storytelling. TOPAZ is one of the most likeable sets of songs you'll hear all year."
"...Clarke, in other words, manages to triangulate past, present and future in songs that feel both close to home and otherworldly, but also remarkably bereft of the weariness or melancholy that tends to permeate the genre. William is intimate and rich, and one of the finest folk records you'll hear this year."
"...Bunton's production is warm, the kind of mix that gives the impression of a solo singer/guitarist, but with the spacious, subtle hum of a full band - horns, even - behind him."
"With its new six-song EP, Angry, Canadian pop/R&B duo Too Attached not only sets fire to inequality and inequity, but it holds a dance party in the flames...the artistic and personal risks that Shraya and Bilgi take in their music are very real. Angry earns its place among Canada’s most incisive, radical and galvanizing albums, and it doesn’t just deserve to be heard, we need to listen to it and make space for other artists to follow suit.."
VIVEK SHRAYA & QSO
"...Queer Songbook Orchestra perform songs by queer musicians in an orchestral style often reserved for more siloed, classical genres. In doing so they’re building an exclusively queer canon while treating those songs with the kind of reverence they deserve. Stepping outside the realm of covers to work with Vivek Shraya, their presence on their collaborative EP (particularly on title track Part-Time Woman) embellishes her already gorgeous melody in deeply affecting ways."
"...From "Sweetie'’s solitary piano notes to the swelling strings of the record’s title track, culminating with the orchestral, anthemic reprise of Shraya’s 2016 single 'Girl, It’s Your Time', Part-Time Woman is an undeniably powerful music trip. Backed by The Queer Songbook Orchestra and Choir Choir Choir, Shraya and producer James Bunton have added a vital voice in the ongoing conversation about trans rights and human dignity."
WAVING IS FUNNY
"...part of the experience was the fantastic sound design by James Bunton. It was absolutely beautiful, particularly in the slower moments my guest mentioned. The brief interludes were very relaxing, and Bunton's work definitely served the performers well."