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. Having just been accepted into the
world-renowned circle of songwriters at The Bluebird Cafe after her 60
second audition, Bragg has already been warmly welcomed back to
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
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.