Lesser
Artist: Tragedy Ann
Label: Organic Records

I just never learn.  Whenever one of my favorite music-makers returns to the scene with a new band, I always expect a new and improved version of what left me in awe before.  Even though I know they themselves hate fans doing that, and it never is the same anyway.
  
Enter Tragedy Ann, the new band of one Mikee Bridges, breathy baritone grunge vocalist par excellence, formerly of Sometime Sunday.  The combo of Mikee's signature vocals with his moving, "simple everyman struggling" lyrics in Sometime Sunday has always resonated within my heart.  But with Tragedy Ann, Mikee has a new band and a new mellow-ness to him.  The frustrations and harsh realities that fueled Sometime Sunday have seemingly been dealt with.  There's a maturity and tenderness that shines through here, perhaps due to Mikee's experiences as a father.  On "Little One" he sings of his daughter (I assume):

    She's only three but she knows You so different than me,
    God deliver me...

    She is dancing with the Maker
    She is holding hands with Him
    There is nothing she can do to keep Him from her heart

Okay, so it's nothing deep or profoundly poetic.  When sung by the man, though, it's good stuff straight from the heart.  And you feel it.

Totally obvious in other lyrics is Mikee's living and breathing adventure with God, complete with repentance, pleas for help, a desire to encourage others, and a longing to be with the Lord.  The line "If you don't know Him well you don't know me" from the first track is oh so true.  It's the theme of the album.

I was a bit underwhelmed by the music, though.  Those expectations reared their head again, and it was hard to overcome them.  Tragedy Ann lacks the dynamic peaks and valleys and the dirtiness of Sometime Sunday, sticking closer to a more accessible post-grunge power rock style.  The playing is fully skillful, though--nice guitar and bass tones, and stop-on-a-dime drumming.  Classic and southern rock leads soar in the back of the mix. Several slow and meditative songs sneak in at the middle and end (beautiful tunes).  The production isn't anything special, but it does the job.  I definitely warmed up to the music as I listened to the album more, and eventually the music, vocals, and lyrics melted together and seeped into me.  The good vibrations I got with Sometime Sunday soon came buzzing in my soul with Tragedy Ann too.  They're just a good deal more subtle.

So give Tragedy Ann a chance if you're looking for some strong guitar-driven rock and a killer set of lungs exhaling songs of the Spirit. These are the kind of tunes I like to drive to, singing along to my Maker as I cruise ever closer....

By Josh Spencer