The Hartford Courant
Tracy Bonham was a well-regarded newcomer in the mid-1990s who made
her biggest splash with the tune "Mother Mother." She has
since had some unusual career turns, including a recent stint singing
with a Blue Man Group touring troupe. She gets back to making her own
music in highly impressive fashion with her first album in more than
five years. "Blink the Brightest" is a savvy, entertaining
set that offers a rich mix of off-center personality and rangy musical
A classically trained violinist, Bonham issues a variety of decorative
lines amid earthy, restless pop structures, such as the crisp, mechanical
bits of sawing that augment "I Was Born Without You." She
delves into any number of styles to get her points across, whether drizzling
acidic bits of rock onto the deliberate "Naked" or puffing
airy charm into the mix of desperate longing and agreeable lyrical skew
in "Take Your Love Out on Me."Bonham delights in grounded
romanticism as she weaves through the acoustic-tinged "Shine,"
but her inquisitive introspections typically come with dark sides, such
as the self-critical core of "Did I Sleep Through It All?"
For all her explorations of doubt and deficiency, she never succumbs
- Thomas Kintner
Right out of the gate of Tracy Bonham’s debut album for Zoe Records,
Blink the Brightest, is a vibrant and yearning song of love’s
pining for reciprocation wrapped in gauze of shoe gazer melodies. The
song, “Something Beautiful,” is single material and sets
the stage for the kind of music style that awaits you. Tracy’s
girl-fronted band is typical of the genre stylish for its gorgeous vocals
and pop music, soft and introspective. Tracy’s lyrical evaluations
of the world and its turnings are interestingly phrased and melodically
framed, revealing a song craft that can easily capture your ears.
A discordant violin begins “and the world has the nerve to keep
turning” where Tracy questions the greed of life, wondering why
nature even allows such slights to occur. Tracy has a gift for melody
but there’s a bit of the lonely quirk involved as well. While
she may sing-talk her way through some of her well-structured pop tunes,
her choruses are well sung and can stick to your memory. There’s
a dash of Shania Twain in some of her stuff with a healthy dose of existence
angst blended in. We all wish for the best in our world (“And
The World Has The Nerve to Keep Turning”; we yearn for days gone
past (“Dumbo Sun”) and perhaps regret days lived (“Did
I Sleep Through It All?”); we all feel unprepared and inadequate
(“All Thumbs”), with love lost/betrayed or love won.
Overall, Tracy Bonham has crafted a sincere and listenable album that
explores the span of our lives. And she has done a nice job of it.
- Matt Rowe
Lilith Fair darling Tracy Bonham doesn't have a
lot to prove, at least not to anyone who paid attention to 2000's excellent
Down Here, but on Blink the Brightest she barrels full-bore through
a clutch of carefully chiseled songs as if the world had forgotten her.
On some, it's with the force of a Jonatha Brooke--gentle but juiced
with wisdom--while on others it's with the brewing intensity of Fiona
Apple or the knowing poise of Joan Osbourne. Derivative, though, these
tunes are not: "And The World Has the Nerve to Keep Turning"
is a dazzling slice of outrage churned in a patient, pretty voice, and
"Naked" reveals itself in bold, artful strokes. Where Bonham
is at her best, though, is on the experimental-sounding "Wilting
Flower." As her voice pulls away from the music and momentarily
flutters adrift, you can't help suspecting that there are a lot of smart
music buyers in America ready for an explosion of tightly wound female
talent, and that this is their disc.
-Tammy La Gorce
Tracy Bonham shines vibrantly on her May 10 release Blink the Brightest.
The Eugene, Oregon-born singer/songwriter takes on multi-instrumental
duties, including violin, piano, keyboard and guitar. She’s
joined by studio guests including drummer Joey Waronker (The Eels),
bassists Sebastian Steinberg and Davey Farragher, guitarists Joe
Gore and Dave Levita, and keyboardist Mitchell Froom.
Blink was funded with money Bonham made from selling her EP on the road
while touring last year as a guest vocalist with the Blue Man Group.
With vocals reminiscent of some of the leading female rockers
(think Alanis Morrisette, Liz Phair, Sheryl Crow) Tracy has one
of the best female rock voices I’ve heard in a long time.
Equal parts grit and melody, Blink incorporates Tracy’s
influences of rock, pop, R&B, and soul. The second track,
“I Was Born Without You” has an eerie, love-obsessed quality
to it (“I was born without you, why can’t I live without
you now?”), while the third track, “And the World
Has the Nerve to Keep Turning,” plays with a Fionna Apple-like
seductive darkness to it. With Blink, Tracy returns to her independent
roots, and will undoubtedly have similar success (1995’s The Liverpool
Sessions via Cherrydisc Records won her Best New Artist, Best Female
Vocalist and Best Indie Single at the Boston Music Awards).
Mainstream audiences will remember Tracy from her 1996 Grammy-nominated
release, ‘The Burdens of Being Upright (Island Records),’
and the No.1 rock single “Mother Mother.” With much
success behind her, Tracy still says that “blink is her best work
yet” and I couldn’t agree more.
- Kristi Singer