Singer/songwriter Meredith Braggis incontestably well read, but his greatest gift is the conversationalsubtlety with which he weaves an educational tale. Like hishyper-literate contemporaries the Decemberists and their frontman ColinMeloy, Bragg would rather pour over history books than his own personaldiary. But instead of Meloy's theatricality, Bragg adopts theearnestness of Death Cab for Cutie's Ben Gibbard, with only acousticguitar strums and his steady voice -- a stipulation of his entire LP Silver Sonya -- to communicate chronicles of times past.
On"Plinian" Bragg tells the tragic story of the legendary volcaniceruption of Mt. Vesuvius in A.D. 79 through the eyes of Pliny theYounger, an Ancient Roman writer whose famed uncle and namesake Plinythe Elder died in the explosions. Passing references to the Elder'snaval career and Pliny's friend, the historian Tacitus, arefascinating, but the catastrophic imagery of billowing smoke, ashfalling like snow and raining stones when "fires lit the Naples Bay"are universally devastating. And though he thought the "Gods enraged,"Bragg sounds only mournful as his spectral coos lament the city'sdemise, proving that "Plinian" isn't your average sleep-inducinghistory class, but a sorrowful, melodic yarn. Meredith Bragg's Silver Sonya begins burning Dec. 12 via the Kora label.
Now Hear This: Meredith Bragg - "Plinian" DOWNLOAD MP3
Talk: Will "Plinian" make Meredith Bragg hot like lava?