After several years of growing acclaim on the New York Americana scene, Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter Mary Bragg reached a peak in her early career last year when she attracted overflow crowds for a residency at New York’s famed venue The Living Room. Her latest recording, Tattoos and Bruises, grew out 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 of Alexander’s 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 is the same accomplished band of players who regularly perform in her live shows: 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 has become a key member.
Tattoos and Bruises follows her sophomore release, Sugar (2007), which was produced by Darius Jones, and recorded just a block away from her home in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Sugar earned Bragg several industry nods – at the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival (Emerging Artists Showcase), the Wildflower! Festival ( Performing Songwriter Competition finalist), and in the International Songwriting Competition (Honorable Mention). 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.