Album Review, Creative Loafing

After more than a year of writing and recording with Steve Connelly at his Zen Studios, local outfit Mercy McCoy – made up of husky-toned vocalist/guitarist Stefan Scheuermann, guitarist Collin Ryan, pianist/organ player Eddie Entreken, guitarist (and sometimes bassist) Ed Woltil (of The Ditchflowers) and drummer/percussionist Justin Stoddard – has finally delivered a roots rock debut dosed healthily in heartland Americana spaciousness, Southern blues swagger and upbeat folk-pop luster.

Brighter in the Dark brims with warm poignant expressions that are battered and scarred, yet hopeful, healing and restless to trust all over again beginning with the breezy sprinting reconciliation and heart-on-sleeve expectation of “Born to Try.” The title track (first debuted on AmericanSongwriter.com) opens with finely-picked string melodies chasing deeper lowend notes that gain lush body with the emergence of earnest piano and strummed guitar, Scheuermann’s vocals taking on ahusky quality as he croons about the selfish act of rebounding with someone you don’t really care about to forget the one you’re having trouble getting over. 

The album’s two most bluesy odes trail each other; “Black and White” is an easy-going ode with slide guitar twang, shuffling and driving rhythms, and a distinctive “Tuesday’s Gone”/Lynyrd Skynyrd appeal, while “Facing the Sun” propels forward with dusty, country-kicking muscle. A pair of love songs read like opposite sides of a relationship coin and also fall back-to-back; blithely romantic “Be My Spark” carries the chase and sweet flush of blossoming love on sunny folk-percussive rhythms, picked and plucked acoustic guitar and pitch-perfect multi-part vocal harmonies, while the melancholic blame-gaming and down-trodden confessions of “Spent on You” are carried on instrumentals that roil and sway like the relationship the lyrics allude to (“If money is time, why can’t you ever save / you’re spending mine, saving for a rainy day / but I’ve spent mine all on you”). The buoyant atmospherics of “Strange Dreams” bring Brighter in the Dark to a quietly sublime close with a mournful slide guitar passage and a few bright notes of harmonics. 

Critics Rating: 3.5 Stars

Posted By LEILANI POLK on Thu, Nov 19, 2015 at 4:00 AM