Mary Bragg’s new, self-titled album (out September 30 via Tone Tree Music) unfolds cinematically as she peers through layers of light and shadows, baring her soul in ethereal vocals that echo her pain and resolve.
The album’s narrative arc follows the beginning of the end of a relationship. Bragg captures the vacillations between feelings of inadequacy and affirmations of promise, the embrace of the fresh breezes and glowing possibilities beyond the horizon.
The album’s first track, “Love Each Other,” opens with spiraling and echoing da-da-das that lay the foundation for the tender baring of Bragg’s soul. Her vocals draw us in and transfix with their beauty. She carries the listener into her emotions so that we begin to feel her turmoil.
The propulsive pop-rocker “Hard Times” evokes the halting moment between moving forward and sinking into despondency. It captures that feeling when one doesn’t want to hear from others about things being okay down the road. All that’s clear in those moments is that today is a hard time.
“The Lonely Persistence of Time” floats spaciously along an airy, loping jazz vibe. Bragg’s breathy vocals capture the luxuriant, languorous movement of time. The catchy pop-folk of “Please Don’t Be Perfect” breezily mimics the desire lovers often have to find perfection in each other—or to complete each other. Bragg’s lyrics affirm that imperfection is simply a reflection of the ambiguities of life and love.
She eventually moves on from the claustrophobic caverns of loneliness and ambivalence that accompany the end of the relationship. She acknowledges in the somber “Colorblind,” written with and featuring Peter Groenwald on vocals, that she turned a blind eye to her lover when they showed their true colors.
By the end of the album, Bragg has experienced a “Constellation Change” and affirms that she is now moving “In the Light.” (The latter is an atmospheric song that features Bragg’s and Erin Rae’s vocals riding over a gently strummed electric guitar.)
Mary Bragg’s exquisite vocal performances on this eponymous recording convey her emotional struggles and triumphs with both intimacy and vulnerability. As we listen, we live her pain alongside her. We feel with her the tentativeness of moving forward, acknowledging regret, and grasping hope.
Mary Bragg is available HERE.