Material: When an artist begins a verse with, “It all started on a Monday morning,” it’s not hard to want to hear more. This was what Kris Bradley brought to the Hotel Café stage, and it was through storytelling lyrics from her upcoming EP, Worth a Shot, that she could capture her audience. Her selections, expressing ideas for day drinking schemes that might be “Worth a Shot” or conveying the “Good Kind of Hurt” coming from “the mother of the kid in the gown and cap on graduation day,” swayed like poetry with a twangy country beat. The ironic quips inserted into each song made the night (“sad songs and cigarettes... and I don’t even smoke”), as they were not only clever, but easy for the ear to catch.
Musicianship: Bradley’s voice—honey-rich with Nashville, as well as the short and quick plucks on the strings of her guitar—are what compose that upbeat country tune in her music, but it’s her use of unembellished chords and overused tempos that make it sound like so many other country-pop songs. “The Whole Damn Pooch” and “Good Bad Girl” are especially guilty of this, but “Fun House”—its slow and creeping circus-like guitar strums a relief from whiskey-imbibing songs—proves to be the exception, and potential indicator, that Bradley possesses versatility as a musician. Similarly, the same can be said for her singing talents—certainly there, but, with a lack of diversity in range and pitch, unchallenged.
Performance: Watching Bradley perform was a lot like hanging out with your favorite gal pal— that fun one who’s had a wild drunken night and is only glad to tell you about it the next morning. Between songs, she’ll relate the stories or inspirations behind them, a memorable one being “Go Find Yourself,” an ode to those friends we all know who claim they want to “figure themselves out” post-breakup, only to end up in another relationship two weeks later. Bradley puts a sincere attitude into her songs, be it frustration at those aforementioned friends or hurt from a broken relationship—the latter of which was clearly channeled in her presentation of “Something Blue.”
Summary: Kris Bradley's strength is in her songwriting, and when you match that with a lovely voice and stage persona that is both inviting to her listeners yet vulnerable when it needs to be, you can see why the Nashville Songwriters Association International put this artist on their list of “Ones to Watch Out For.”
The Players: Kris Bradley, lead vocals, guitar; Al Bonhomme, guitar; Sydney Maxine, backup vocals.
Photo by Rosario Diaz
Kris Bradley - "We Don't Paint the Town"