The Brilliant Folk Pop of Nelson Bragg
January 9, 2007
“I love pop with a capitol P,” said California veteran musician turned solo artist Nelson Bragg. Over the past 20 years Bragg has played with California’s best pop musicians including: Brian Wilson, The Now People, Stew, The Mockers, Cloud 11, and many others.
His first solo album, Day Into Night, is an album full of pop’s brightest moments. The sound of the album is an influx of such artists as CSNY, Brian Wilson, The dB’s, and George Harrison with gleaming truthful lyrics.
Bragg’s day job consists of playing percussion with the Brian Wilson Band. “Brian Wilson Band is my day job, bread and butter gig so I’d say the Brian Wilson Band requires the most dedication,” Bragg said. He can be heard on Wilson’s masterpiece SMiLE.
As the title suggests, the album moves from one half of “day” songs to the second half of “night” songs. The tracks slowly get darker and darker, and when you’re conscious of the album’s day to night concept you can almost feel the sun go down. “It does tend to get darker as the record progresses,” said Bragg. “The cover expresses “dualism”, the feeling we all have from time to time that we ALL are two people: ourselves alone with our secrets, and who we are in the world outside, two distinct personalities.”
For Bragg, the “pop curse,” as he calls it, can falter an album’s originality. “Most pop records tend to wear their influences on their sleeve,” said Bragg. What makes Bragg’s album so great is it doesn’t try to hide from its influences. “When you do hear a direct influence, it was me saying ‘here we go, I don’t care what people think.’”
Day Into Night opens with a pop masterpiece “Forever Days,” a song about the heartache of love whose chorus soars with a CSNY type harmony. “Return the Love You Take,” is a ballad about love gone badly and the lessons learned. It’s a wonderful folksy type of song, and Bragg’s voice sounds beautiful on it.
His cover of George Harrison’s “Dark Sweet Lady” is a perfect choice; it fits in perfectly with the albums sound. “‘Dark Sweet Lady’ is this amazing chestnut of a song,” said Bragg. “It’s about Olivia (Harrison’s ex-wife) and it was written in Hawaii. One strange thing about it’s meaning to me is that almost every girlfriend and my ex-wife included, like Olivia, had dark hair, dark eyes, almost olive skin.”
The closing track “Turn the Darkness into Gold,” ends Day Into Night calmly and serenely. It consists solely of an acoustic guitar, some soft strings, and Bragg’s soothing voice. The track is the story of Bragg’s best friend marrying and the friendship suffering. “It’s about growing up and realizing the pain of relationships changing,” said Bragg.
The final line of the song goes, “Remember we’re no longer 17.” The album ends, or better the day ends, and Bragg’s truthful lyrics leave you with enough relationship heartache you’ll think twice before asking for a phone number again.
To get a copy of Bragg’s CD you can order it from http://www.sidebmusic.com, cdbaby.com, or you can get a signed copy by ordering it directly from Bragg’s myspace page.
Key Tracks: “Forever Days” “Death of Caroline” “Return The Love You Take”