An album of superb songs delivered through brilliant musicianship.
‘Rain Down Mercy‘ is a truly excellent listen; an album featuring a superbly well-put-together selection of songs and exceptional musicianship. With fifteen tracks and a running time of an hour and five minutes, it is a delight from beginning to end.
Larry Brittain, Billy Clockell and Jeff Schmich founded Brewflies back in 1994 as an acoustic bluegrass trio, but as this album shows, the band has expanded and developed significantly since then. The lead and harmony vocals of Kirsti Gholson especially are a hugely welcome addition and contribute massively to the rich sounds to be found on this album.
‘Rain Down Mercy’ can be called a pandemic album, but its themes extend to wider experiences of human struggles and ultimately how faith and hope should never be lost. As Clockell reflects, “this started in a COVID-draped, isolated and online musical experience that, day by day, morphed into this project.” It includes their interpretations of iconic songs that speak to the times; artists represented on the album include Stephen Stills (album opener ‘For What It’s Worth‘), Mary Gauthier (a wonderful version of ‘Mercy Now‘) Bruce Springsteen, John Fogerty, Lennon and McCartney, Mark Knopfler, Bob Dylan, Iris Dement and touchingly Robbie Robertson. It also contains three original songs by their musical soulmate and collaborator, Michael Veitch.
The narrative in the song choices take us through a range of emotions and stages, all the while reflecting the importance of keeping a musical communication going in the face of isolation and fear, and by the time we reach the final three tracks, we are in a world finding its feet again after incredibly challenging times. The Band’s ‘The Rumor‘ is a song full of hope- “it’s a comin’, a brand new day“, whilst Dylan’s ‘New Morning‘ asks, “can’t you feel the sun a-shining”. Then album closer, Dement’s ‘New Life‘, is a song that is a reminder of how significant and potent our small gestures of grace, compassion and love can be.
This great album is, in the words of Brewflies, “a humble plea and a petition, a confession and an expression of thanksgiving… and a simple ‘prayer’ that we all rain down mercy on ourselves, each other, and our lonely planet.” It succeeds on every count.