"Mother, mother, I'm dirty, I'm starving. Seriously. Send $! Love, Tracy." Well, things aren't quite that grim for Tracy Bonham, whose breakthrough hit saw a college student censoring her parental correspondence to remove all hints of despair and debauchery. The Burdens of Being Upright, the disc that spawned the hit "Mother, Mother," also contained the self-fulfilling "One Hit Wonder," but Bonham's absence from the airwaves belies the strength of her underground fanbase.
Bonham's 2000 effort, Down Here, was as blunt as its crotch-grabbing cover, with a pro-promiscuity anthem ("Behind every good woman/Lies a trail of men") as its centerpiece. Drawing influence from her classical violin training and grunge's soft/loud dynamic, Bonham's first two albums excelled at artful outrage. This year's Blink the Brightest eliminates her angry outbursts and frank sex-talk (even "Naked" contains only metaphorical nudity). Like fellow Lilith Fair veterans Liz Phair and Alanis Morissette, Bonham has settled into a relatively mellow midlife groove. Onstage, though, she's still hiking up her skirt. Bonham makes bow-stroking seem wanton, yet more dignified than Tori Amos' piano-humping. She moves from violin to guitar to keys, and her equally versatile voice glides from fierce whispers to ecstatic wails.