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Album review: Fistful of Mercy's 'As I Call You Down'

October 5, 2010 |  6:46 pm

FISTFUL_OF_MERCY_240_For a certain kind of guy who always seems to be swinging in a hammock somewhere, one bellbottomed leg kicked over the side, the harmonies of Crosby, Stills and Nash are sacrosanct, sometimes to the point of creative claustrophobia.

On Fistful of Mercy's debut, “As I Call You Down,” that isn't the case. Singer-songwriters Dhani Harrison, Ben Harper and Joseph Arthur are all confident enough to add their own wintry and sometimes endearingly gawky take on the Laurel Canyon formula. And, for the record, a photo in the liner notes shows them all wearing skinny jeans — the times have changed.

Most of the tracks on “As I Call You Down” seem made for dewy, slow-to-rise mornings, with lines of steel guitar and the kind of slightly cockeyed melodies that keep the listener poised for surprise. Sometimes a rambunctious mood sets in, as on country-blues stomper “Father's Son.” At other times, the threesome tucks in for meditation: “30 Bones,” the only instrumental track, is a gorgeous, feathery construction.

As pleasing as the melodies and execution are, it's hard to tell if the album has real sticking power — or if it merely passes through the system, appreciated but ultimately forgettable. Only time and more records will tell.

—Margaret Wappler

Fistful of Mercy
“As I Call You Down”
Hot Records
Three stars (Out of four)

 

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