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As I Call You Down
Artist: Fistful of Mercy
Label: Hot Records
Release Date: October 5, 2010
Duration:  9 tracks, 39:34
There is an extraordinary amount of music produced today in which indies are flourishing and major labels are floundering. Out of this maze is born many new and little known bands competing with big names forcing new sounds and new discoveries in music.  And fruitful collaborations. Two of which I’ve recently discovered, both sharing amazing harmonies and unique directions in music. The first is Fistful of Mercy and in another review this month, The Civil Wars.
Fistful of Mercy is the collaboration Ben Harper (vocals and guitar), Joseph Arthur (vocals, guitar, keyboards, and bass), and Dhani Harrison (vocals, guitar, keyboards, and bass). To add the cherry on top, Jim Keltner the ‘king’ among current rock drummers, was added to the sessions.  As I Call You Down could loosely be categorized as shoe gaze, but there is something entirely new and overwhelming in this grouping’s lyrics and sound. There is a Beatles-like aura (no play intended on Dhani’s lineage) in the chemistry which shows through in their music. Acoustic guitars lay the foundation throughout while great harmony is found per song occasionally sounding like America.
The opener “In Vain or True” slips into “I Don’t Want to Waste Your Time”, both with haunting harmony and dream-like qualities. The album’s namesake “As I Call You Down” begins with ‘You love like I love’ setting the tone for the song’s soulful message. “Father’s Son” has a touch of deep-south knee slapping showing the band’s versatility while the band’s name sake “Fistful of Mercy” showcases strings backing folk-like guitar strumming. The instrumental “30 Bones,” highlights Arthur’s acoustic guitar prowess against the backdrop of a violin providing an interlude leading to “Restore Me”. The only change that would make “Things Go ‘Round” sound more like a Yellow Submarine tune would be to have Ringo Starr joining on vocals and drums. The album’s conclusion shines as “With Whom You Belong” leaves the listener with a message of importance of friendships, ‘And come what may, I hope you find friends with whom you belong’.
What Fistful of Mercy brings to the table is a meaningful musical journey with a uniqueness making music fun again. It doesn’t ‘rock your socks off’, have a provocative message, or bring one-hit-wonder material. This is good, solid fare from a group whose popularity as a team is evident in their North American concerts being sold out prior to release of the album with a European tour yet to come. What beats in the heart of this team is chemistry, this is what makes the difference on As I Call You Down. Looking into the making of this trio and the how the songs and recording quickly came together, it proof of this chemistry is very strong. A chemistry which reaches out to the listener, is hauntingly beautiful, and shared by the band.
SS Mertens
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