Some question why a rural Georgia girl would spend 10 years in New York City, so far from home, from the capital of country music, from everything familiar. But when she was barely out of high school, Mary Bragg spent 6 months in Nashville as a sprite, eager singer, like so many – looking to be discovered. During one especially memorable meeting on Music Row, after hearing her homespun demo, an executive responded, “Honey, you ain’t got nothing to say. Go out there and live a little – come back to me in 10 years.”
And so, she lived. New York was her muse, her trouble, her chaperone. Three albums later, Nashville’s magnetism has brought her back to the South – with many a story to tell.
After several years of growing acclaim on the Brooklyn Americana scene, she attracted overflow crowds for a year-long residency at NYC’s famed venue The Living Room. Her latest recording, Tattoos and Bruises, is a reflection of that series of shows. Produced by one of the genre’s contemporary icons, Lee Alexander (Norah Jones, Amos Lee), the album was recorded and mixed at The Coop, the studio belonging to him and his long-time collaborator, Norah Jones.
Featuring a number of her fellow musical luminaries and friends, and writing or co-writing all of the album’s songs, Bragg invited Alexander to co-write four of them, while three more of her favorite songwriters, Adam Levy, Colin McGrath, and her bassist/husband, Jimmy Sullivan, made additional co-writing contributions. The ten tracks that comprise the final album were recorded and mixed over 14 days in December 2010 at Jones’ East Village studio, with Tom Schick (Wilco, Rufus Wainwright) engineering. Backing Bragg on the album are Jimmy Sullivan (bass); Rich Hinman, Steve Elliot and Adam Levy (guitars); Jordan Perlson and Brian Wolfe (drums); Mike Cassedy (piano, organ); and Marika Hughes (cello).
Raised as the youngest of four children in a big musical family in Swainsboro, Georgia, Bragg lived in a number of Southern musical capitals – Athens, Atlanta, and Nashville – before settling in New York in 2004. Her music is consequently a seamless hybrid of her southern Americana roots and the downtown New York singer-songwriter community of which she became a key member before moving to Nashville in December 2013.
Tattoos and Bruises follows her sophomore release, Sugar (2007), which was produced by Darius Jones, and recorded in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Her debut album, Certain Simple Things (2004), was co-written, engineered and produced in Athens, Georgia, by Dave Haywood (Lady Antebellum).
Drawing comparisons to Patty Griffin and Mindy Smith, Bragg has come to inhabit her own unique fusion of American musical forms, clearly heard and felt on Tattoos and Bruises.
Nods of Note
Daytrotter Session, recorded January 2014 – coming soon
Year-long residency at NYC’s The Living Room in 2012 for guest series “Mary Bragg With”
Telluride Troubadour Competition Honorable Mention (2012)
International Songwriting Competition Honorable Mention (2011)
Falcon Ridge Folk Festival Emerging Artists Showcase (2009)
Wildflower! Festival Performing Songwriter Competition Finalist (2009)
International Songwriting Competition Honorable Mention (2009)