About a Dog: Bully’s new album is about Mezzi, for Mezzi

Most longtime fans of Bully, the project of longtime Nashvillian Alicia Bognanno, have also been fans of the artist’s smiley, 80-pound Shepherd-Husky mix named Mezzi. Her dog was omnipresent in social media, interviews, band T-shirts and album liner notes. So when Mezzi passed away last year it upended Bognanno.

The dog had always been her sidekick during writing, recording and occasionally even touring. Bognnano grew up with a learning disability and deep insecurities that pervaded her schooling even through college at Middle Tennessee State University, where she was of the only women in her audio engineering program. Core to Bognanno’s comfort and confidence in becoming Bully, as she took the leap from producer to making and sharing her own music, was Mezzi.

“I had never experienced Bully in any capacity without her, so I was dreading writing. She was always right next to me,” Bognanno remembers. “Eventually I went into the room and I wrote ‘Days Move Slow’ and ‘A Wonderful Life’ in, like, two hours.”

More heartfelt tributes then just poured out of Bognanno from lyrics to melodies to cathartic, wild noises that set her on a path to healing. Bognanno, hanging in the backyard where some of Mezzi’s ashes are spread, describes the process as “moving forward but not moving on.”

The bulk of her fourth full-length LP Lucky For You serves as “one big love song to” Mezzi. It’s still a characteristically loud collection of tunes drenched in distorted guitars but it also captures the tenderness Bognanno felt, and still feels now in Mezzi’s absence.

The artist says it’s been difficult to tackle this whole record cycle without her canine companion, and it’s also difficult to sing the very personal songs in front of others. “But it’s a release,” Bognnano says. Through these songs, she “can just kind of escape and express the way I felt, in a way that I maybe haven’t done a good job expressing in communication. I have an understanding with myself in that moment, I guess. And it’s nice for people to also maybe find some sort of connection in it, too.”

WNXP’s July Nashville Artist of the Month Bully returns for a hometown show on August 31 at Brooklyn Bowl.