You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. Mersey Wylie has been a name around town for a while, but only now has the singer/songwriter seen fit to share her modern soul sounds with us. Was it worth the wait? By Alan O’Hare.
‘Can’t Let Go’, the opening song on Mersey Wylie’s debut release, opens up with a choral sound so bold and beautiful that you know what’s coming next is going to be special. It’s a surprise, then, to find that the first shot across the bow from her debut EP turns into a stuttering slice of neo-soul that nods to Björk and Bon Iver-style production.
It’s brave to wrap such an obvious hook as the “’cause I can’t let go” chorus refrain inside insular clothes, but Wylie is not the type of artist to shout and scream at you from the rooftops. The slippery guitar, subtle Fender Rhodes and silky sax’ phrases that dominate here are the work of an artist in control of the muse. The singer is in charge throughout this debut EP and it’s another nod to who’s leading the way when second song ‘Giving Myself Away’ (watch below) is another quiet revolution, based on more multiple-tracked harmonies and soul-infused ethereal melodies. “The skin I live in” is a line taken from ‘Giving Myself Away’ and opens up on another vocal hook and rolling cymbal sequence, before retreating back to a slow jam reverie.
‘Only You’ is the EP’s biggest moment and its classic structure and production suit the tune well. A dirty great guitar riff dominates, as horn stabs and a lumbering beat threaten to turn taut on the tune’s gorgeous melody. “A most dramatic fall from grace”, sings Wylie as the songs slithers to the stage floor and lands in a ‘Dusty In Memphis’-style heap. On that note, it’s worth pointing out that the singing is stunning throughout and Wylie’s band have played a blinder in the studio. Sure, the sounds of bass synths and stacked voices are present throughout, but this is an organic release from an artist very much still standing in awe of the rawness of human beings playing instruments in a room. ‘The Skin I Live In’ EP stands in the now, then, but still shares a space and time with the things that have influenced its flavour.
Mersey Wylie has sung in dives, played in jazz orchestras and performed on-stage with rock ‘n’ roll legends… the rub? You’d never tell listening to her debut release proper. Wylie has said that this collection of songs explore her personal journey with her mental health, but it’s fair to say that in this darkness hidden gems are shining.
‘The Skin I Live In’ EP, by Mersey Wylie, is out now
Thursday November 22nd 2018, 8pm
Studio 2, Parr Street, Liverpool
Pic by Nata Moraru Photography