The Californian native Maia Sharp continues to enthrall us with emotional content. Since her mid-nineties debut Hardly Glamour, the artist has shown a consistency, both in the power of her songwriting and indeed in the delivery of each syllable she sings. A few years have passed since Dash Between The Dates, but now she returns strong, with a new collection of tracks to inspire us on Mercy Rising. Released May 7th, Mercy Rising is an album which is fuelled by raw emotion, pulling the talent of Sharp in new directions but thankfully remaining within a familiar structure.
At a time when musicians are holding off with releases, Maia reads the room in realising fans need new sounds. Mercy Rising acts as a reflection of our own survival, and how we deal with the parts of us that are damaged. Opening with the haunting ambience of the title-track, the dramatic brilliance pulls the listener in with the siren voice of Maia, it is exceptional. A song which tells of searching and hope in modern times – “I lived a revolution..” . The soundscape is set from the start, and moves into the jazz-flames of “You’ll Know Who Knows You”, a personal basis here, and the thud of drums create a backdrop for the artist to create a melancholic atmosphere. Rolling still with the latest single, the intense “Backburner”, and the subject of relationships are under the microscope. Examining the caustic nature of broken romance, fused with a melody that at times is breathtaking.
The acoustic ballad “Nice Girl” continues gracefully through this journey. Unlike the previous, this is more in the context of realisation, how, when love implodes, and you take the route of acceptance instead of hurt – “You can’t change somebody who doesn’t want to change” . Though the following “When the World Doesn’t End”, featuring PJ Pacifico is hypnotic in it’s minimalistic approach. It is a barrage of instruments that surface at the chorus in a ‘country-nouveau’ outing. Although the acoustic “Whatever We Are” pulls at the heartstrings in the way Maia can execute with ease, a trick, very few in the modern world can pull off. “Things To Fix” has a vibe of the mid-nineties to it, a rocker that is a slow burner and still captures the attention, and uplifts.
The playful “Junkyard Dog” opens as the album does with a sprinkle of electricity. It is a fantastic, foot-stomping piece of work, upping the ante of Mercy Rising with a soaring chorus. “Not Your Friend” is a fusion of organic and electric instruments, with the viper-tongued voice of Maia carrying a message to someone. She has a sweetness that can decimate love, a gift she uses to set her sights on her causes of pain. The collaboration, and dual vocal of “Nowhere Together” is an exceptional addition to the album. With the prowess of Cyd Greenwood against the emotive Maia, and set against an acoustic backdrop it becomes a cinematic scene. Although the pleading of “Mission” is a melodramatic statement. With a slick arrangement like throughout, where you may expect something to launch, but it holds back, until you are on the edge of your seat then the song fires up. The track explodes with joy, hope, as if this is the climax to Maia Sharp’s journey, finding all the answers in a kaleidoscope of sound.
An added bonus “Always Good to See You” is an added benefit given to the album. An encore of beauty, and gives a further breath of brilliance to Mercy Rising. An album which sets a high mark, not only for other artists to measure themselves by, but Sharp herself. There is so much of her personality on display here, captured in all its splendor, how she will follow it, will take a momentous work (no pressure). However, for now Mercy Rising is an album everyone should hear.
2.You’ll Know Who Knows You
5.When the World Doesn’t End Feat. PJ Pacifico
6.Whatever We Are
7.Things To Fix
9.Not Your Friend
12.Always Good to See You