It has taken Nashville-based guitarist and songwriter Alicia Bognanno a couple of albums to find a free expression and locate an inner place that feels comfortable, and ultimately, let go. But the third studio project shows a frontwoman, who is seeking the release needed to be herself.
Delving deep, enjoying wherever it may take her, ‘SUGAREGG’ shadows the singer on her twelve- track-outing of transparent exploration. There is much to be learnt, and Bognanno is eager to hand out the goods.
Having parted ways with her band mates, this record marks her first solo adventure. The altered mindset, having found the proper treatment for bipolar 2 disorder, means she is free from cycles of paranoia and insecurity about her work.
Recorded at Pachyderm Studios with producer John Congleton, a skilled engineer in her own right, she chose to hand over recording responsibilities to others, so she could focus on the delivery of her songs. Now, completely at ease, she “wanted to be content knowing for myself what I can do without needing the approval of others to validate that.”
There is a place between the rawer edges of grunge and sugary pop, knowing how to tap right into that is half the battle. Bognanno knows, and she understands how to handle things once she gets there. The rhythmic and melodic intensity projected here is believable, and the same applies to her Cobain-esque vocals and Hole-resembling screams.
Hazily melodious, the general pace is springy with an even distribution of aggression, with tracks like ‘Every Tradition’, ‘Where To Start’ and ‘Stuck In Your Head’ acting as clear makers of that principle. But pensive, more gentle instants like ‘Come Down’, ‘Like Fire’ and ‘What I Wanted’ exemplify some of the reclaimed open, optimistic mindset.
‘Prism’ demonstrates what verges on the regaining of strength, “Can’t feel your pain like before now it’s/Just vaguely a shadow waiting outside the door but it/Just keeps coming up I was close almost in the clear”. Elsewhere, a song like ‘Hours And Hours’ takes stock of feelings of negativity. In vocals delivered over dark basslines she declares that “I’m not angry anymore/I’m not holding onto that”.
When push comes to shove, ‘SUGAREGG’ goes far to ease and maintain the cool in encountering happy sentiments and combine them with a fuck-it-all attitude. It is the blistering irresistibility of what is achieved at that point, which makes this record striking and inescapable.
Words: Susan Hansen
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