Meredith Bragg / Meredith Bragg & the Terminals

The Departures EP

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Meredith Bragg & the Terminals' 2005 debut album was called Volume 1, so this limited-edition EP, which follows six months later, might be thought of as Volume 1½. Or, since Volume 1 was only 37 minutes long, this might constitute the rest of it. Actually, though, the release of a half-album is well justified by the musical and artistic development Bragg and the group show. Volume 1 was dominated by Bragg's acoustic guitar work and seemingly sedated singing, but The Departures EP, from its opening track, "Empty Beds," is a much livelier affair. The tempos are faster (and sometimes odd -- "Let's Start Over" is played in what sounds like 6/4 time, that is, the verses are, though the chorus slows down appreciably); the singing is more forceful; and the playing is more aggressive. All of this is relative to the sound of Volume 1, of course; the Terminals still aren't the Rolling Stones by any means. Still, they sound more like a band, and Bragg sounds more engaged. He is still very introspective in his lyrical approach, still doubtful. The chorus of "Empty Beds," for example, goes, "What will I do for Christmas? What will I do?" and he spends some of the up-tempo "Talk Me Down" singing, "Slow down." But despite the uncertainty, he continues, as he did on Volume 1, to fight his depression. "Let's pretend it's all right," he sings on "Postcard from Boston." And so it is, as, in keeping with the EP title, he plans various escapes. The Departures EP is a much more promising effort than Volume 1 and suggests that the next volume in Bragg's discography will be well worth hearing.

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