reviews for blink the brightest
Zoe / Rounder


The Hartford Courant
July 2005

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 appeals.

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 to despair.

- Thomas Kintner

July 2005

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

June 2005

There's nothing here that will lead violinist Tracy Bonham back to the Modern Rock charts she topped with "Mother Mother" in 1996 -- not unless there's an alternate mix in the works with Brandon from the Killers or Trent Reznor sitting in. But anyone who liked her back in '96 should have no trouble liking "Blink the Brightest" now. This stunning collection of haunting "alternative" pop songs is fueled by Bonham's darkly comic wit and flair for well-turned phrases.The title of the quirky "I Was Born Without You" is a set-up for "Why can't I live without you now?" One especially melancholy piano ballad finds Bonham suggesting that "Whether you fall means nothing at all/It's whether you get up." But nothing tops the devastating ballad with eerie violin that finds her responding to all life's sadness with "The kid inside your head keeps asking why the world has the nerve to keep turning."And the hooks are as engaging as the lyrics, from the soaring alt-rock majesty of "Something Beautiful" to the haunting refrain of "And the World Has the Nerve To Keep Turning."

- Ed Masley
June 2005

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


May 2005

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