Meredith Bragg & The Terminals
The Kora Records
The debut by Virginia native Meredith Bragg is a low-key chamber folk-pop gem that should appeal to fans of Elliott Smith, Iron and Wine and Matt Pond PA. The dry, live in the studio sound captures Bragg and his strummed guitar accompanied by pretty piano and vibraphone, along with Elizabeth Olson’s cello, which provides an indispensable undertow of emotion throughout the record.
Bragg sounds something like Ben Gibbard (Death Cab for Cutie) on tunes like “My Only Enemy.” The sound here is more personal and earthbound than most of the Death Cab oeuvre, however. Jonathan Roth’s inventive percussion colors many tracks here, including “Work and Winter,” which features an Elliott Smith-like double-tracked vocal from Bragg. Perversely, a track here called “Waltz No. 1” (also the title of a Smith song) sounds nothing like Smith, with its tin can vocal and vibraphone accompaniment.
The record works best when Bragg sticks to breezy, beautiful, heart-tugging numbers like “Seventeen” and “Cindy’s Song.” Less successful are longer numbers like “I Won’t Let You Down,” which clocks in at 7:33 and doesn’t really have enough to keep your attention for the duration.
Overall, this is a collection of sweet songs performed well. An ideal kind of record for a sleepy Sunday afternoon.