Sugar CD - Mary Bragg

The press release for Sugar, the self-released sophomore outing from Georgian Mary Bragg, draws comparison of the disc with the work of Patty Griffin. And, somewhat surprisingly, there is some truth in this. It’s not the voice - Bragg’s is too silky sweet, too redolent of country-pop chanteuses by the score. But there is a palpable feel of Griffin’s songwriting aesthetic here, nowhere more in evidence than on “I Will Love You,” a (just too) sentimental tale of self-destruction, and opener “Let Me,” a wistful telling of a relationship on rocks scenario that wouldn’t be out of place, say, on 1,000 Kisses. But Bragg is no mere parroter, or at least not that alone.

Sugar holds 10 tracks of accessible, melodic rootsy pop, smart songcraft, and a few surprises. “Sweet Skin” calls on the delightful harmonies of a jazzy, forties vocal group (say The Andrews Sisters or, their more recent incarnation, The Puppini Sisters), and sets these in a bluesy cautionary story of a seductress. Bragg then morphs her vocal into sultry blue-eyed soul and gospel. If everything here were as impressive as these two tracks, Bragg would have a disc of contention, but all too often she settles for a contemporary pop sound that, while going down easy, flat out goes down too easily. A bit more texture in the writing and arrangements would improve things greatly.

By Michael Meade



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