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For Tomboy Princess

Meg Braun captures strong emotions in her songs. She can certainly put these across with just her voice and guitar, but the arrangements on the album enhance the effect. Braun sings in a clear soprano, and the quality of her voice reminds me of the best Irish singers. Her acoustic guitar is featured in the arrangements on the album, but she is joined by rock drums and bass, and often electric guitar. On most songs, there are additional instruments in the mix; on Live to Play, it’s a cello, acting as another member of the rhythm section. There is some fine talent helping on this album, including the members of Red Molly.

Meg Braun's debut, Tomboy Princess, is the soundtrack to a girlhood of climbing trees, fighting pirates and rescuing princes. She reminds me of Lucy Kaplansky and Dar Williams, two of the folk scene's finest singer-songwriters, and her voice has that clear, strong snap of self-awareness. Like attracts like, and for a relative newcomer, Braun has the knack of drawing talented support. Carolann Solebello, Laurie MacAllister, and Abbie Gardner (collectively, Red Molly); Tom Prasada-Rao, Penny Nichols and producer Mark Dann (Shawn Colvin, Bobby Forrester, Dharma Bums, etc.) are just some of the album's contributors.

Tomboy Princess offers more than just the shine of polished professionals. The songs have wit, fire, and grace enough to light up New York. Fairy tale themes figure strongly throughout the album, but these stories are richer—more Grimm's and less Disney—running the gamut from cheerful sassiness to bittersweet melancholy. Helplessness is both refuted and refused as inevitabilities, but "happily" doesn't always connect to "ever after."

Braun's imagery touches the individual through universal experiences, and the fairy tale story structure binds those images as surely as the mad queen's sleeping potion would doom Snow White. Except that in Braun's version, Snow would thumb her nose at the queen and lead the dwarves to storm the castle. Tomboy Princess is a reminder that we can write our own story's ending.

—Lyn Dunagan