Mary Bragg is a singer-songwriter who recently won the songwriting contest in the country category at MerleFest. As a result, she had the opportunity to play her song fittingly titled "Lucky Strike" on the same festival whose lineup included The Avett Brothers and Zac Brown Band among others. It's easy to see why the song won. It is a slow alt-country song with a guitar part that brings Drive-By Truckers to mind. It tells the story of a small-town girl in New York who is counting on a lucky strike to "take me from the back of the line and put me up on top". It is a wistful song that is made more powerful my Bragg's breathy vocals.
On the one hand, you can't help but think that Bragg's songs would easily fit alongside all the hits currently playing on country radio. On the other hand, her music is not as slick as all the Nashville hits. A good example is "Think about Me". The melody of this song is catchy and draws you in. The harmony vocals are classic country and the pedal steel adds a lonesome feel that only enhances the classic country sound. It's easy to imagine this song becoming a jukebox hit.
"Is It Over Yet?" is a powerful song. It begins with just an acoustic guitar and vocals. In it, Bragg sings "I can't imagine why you called last night." She goes on to sing that she has moved on, and you can feel the pain in her voice. You might want to have a glass of whiskey handy when you absorb this one.
Bragg showcases her songwriting abilities on this album. These songs are good for the car as well as for lonely hearts in bars. Not to mention that a country DJ would do well to mix her songs in with the usual Nashville suspects. She can make you think while you sing along. Whether you call it country, alt-country, or Americana, this is a well-written album that shows Bragg's potential as an artist. Lucky Strike will be available May 5.