New York, NY (Top40 Charts)
Nashville-based Americana singer-songwriter Mary Bragg is set to release her new album, Lucky Strike, on May 5, 2017. For the seasoned artist, her rawest, most personal album to date appeared when she hadn't even been planning to record a new album. After finding success writing for and with other artists (her co-written song "Easier Than Leaving" appeared on Michaela Anne's recent release and was featured in Rolling Stone), Bragg had begun to consider devoting herself solely to songwriting.
Then, Lucky Strike
co-producer Jim Reilley (of indie stalwarts The New Dylans) heard a few of Bragg's songs and insisted that they be recorded. She agreed—but only if she could skip the fancy studios (and budgets). Says Bragg: "Lucky Strike
was recorded in a backyard barn studio, where the microphones are old, not expensive-vintage-old, just old. Where the pop filters have holes in them. Where the vocal booth is unfinished because real walls never got built. It's where 'recorded live' is for real recorded live, and everything is exposed." The result is a stunning collection of songs that speaks to our common humanity with uncommon honesty.
Bragg was born and raised in Swainsboro, Georgia, a small town where family and church are primary pastimes, but a trip to New York City would change her life. With their deep southern accents and matching neon t-shirts, her hometown youth group worked in the city's soup kitchens. "I was fascinated by the chaos of the city, and for the first time, I was hungry to learn and explore. I knew I'd be back some day."
Against this backdrop, Bragg's latest record Lucky Strike
was born. After college, she headed back to the big city to nourish her dream of launching her music career, but she was quickly dealt a big dose of humility. "There's this feeling—no matter the dream—this desire to be seen, acknowledged; like you're just waiting on that one thing that will get you to where you want to be," Bragg explains about the title track of her latest album. She sings, "I'm counting on a lucky strike to pull me out from the back of the line, make it easier to climb the mountain, and put me up on top."
"The song 'Lucky Strike' is bit of a sarcastic poke at hopefulness," Bragg says. "Because it might feel like there's just one thing holding you back, but it's never that simple is it? And—it might even be your own subconscious hang-ups standing in the way."
Themes around coming of age and leaving home for new beginnings run throughout the record. In "Comet," co-written with Becky Warren, she sings of the intimate journey a young girl and her mother take moving through loss, sadness and uncertainty together. Bragg's vocals soar while the lyrics probe the small and tender moments that connect us to one another.
"Wildfire," co-written with Liz Longley, captures the desire to be consumed by an undeniable passion, to tap into the irrepressible need to experience a deep connection to another person. This drive to refuse to settle for less is propelled by an unforgettable chorus that insists, "There's nothing like a wildfire, feeling you can't put out, loving that you can't turn down, I want a wildfire."
With candor and subtlety, Bragg's songs probe this common journey to discover our truest selves, outside of our families and communities in which we are raised. That's how she approaches the craft of songwriting as well. "I truly believe that a good song will make people feel something—even prompt people to ask themselves questions that I ask myself when writing the song. I can tell stories most effectively when I shake off that resistance to honesty, because that's when the songs best resonate with my audience."
Since she made Nashville home in 2014, Bragg has become a staple in Music
City's songwriting circles. For Lucky Strike, she wrote with several rising stars in the Americana scene. In addition to Warren and Longley, she worked with Robby Hecht, Stephanie
Lambring, Bruce Wallace, Liz Poston, and Vince Constantino. Bragg brought together her long-time collaborators Rich Hinman (electric guitar, pedal steel) and Jimmy Sullivan (bass) for the new album, along with Bryan Owings (drums), Eric Fritsch (engineer) and Jim Reilley (co-producer).
Her previous studio recordings include Edge of This Town (2015), recorded in a West Oakland, CA studio after winning the Zoo Labs music residency contest, Tattoos & Bruises (2011), recorded in Manhattan in Norah Jones's home studio and produced by Lee Alexander, and Sugar (2007), recorded in Brooklyn and produced by Darius
She has been honored in such prestigious songwriting contests as Kerrville New Folk, Telluride Troubadour, Falcon Ridge Folk Festival, Wildflower! Festival, and the International Songwriting Competition. Lauded by press from USA Today to Nashville Scene, CBS New York praised Bragg for "winning over audiences for years," while Blurt Magazine called her music "assured yet vulnerable."
Bragg plans to tour in support of the album—confirmed dates are listed below with more dates to be confirmed very soon.
Mary Bragg Tour Schedule:
03.03.17 - Richmond International Film Festival - HOF // Richmond, VA
03.18.17 - The 5 Spot // Nashville, TN
04.03.17 - The Basement // Nashville, TN
04.30.17 - The Bluebird Cafe // Nashville, TN
05.05.17 - The Family Wash // Nashville, TN
05.08.17 - Blue Plate Special // Knoxville, TN
05.12.17 - Rockwood Music
Hall Stage 3 // New York, NY
05.13.17 - Burlap & Bean // Newtown Square, PA