The soul within Mercy
Retro pop artist Natalie Bergman has created a soulful book of Americana psalms with her first solo project, Mercy. The album contains a primary focus around faith but presents itself in unconventional ways through its reggae-inspired instrumentation and psychedelic rock vibrations throughout. This is a verge from the norm of modern faith-based music, and it’s a very refreshing and new take on the origins of modern-day rock.
Bergman’s inspiration for the album was born from tragedy after the unexpected deaths of her songwriter father and step-mother in a car crash, an event that she retells in some of the tracks of Mercy. After months of feeling empty and uninspired, she paid a visit to a monastery in the desert of New Mexico. It was here that she engaged in a silent retreat for a week. Forced to confront her pain with nothing but an empty room and a bible, she describes this work as cathartic and “the best writing I’ve ever done in my life.”
Previously a part of the duo Wild Belle with her brother, this is Bergman’s first solo endeavor, and she was signed with Third Man Records for the project. She said of the album: “Jesus was pretty well known for taking heartache and turning it into something hopeful,” Bergman says. “It’s not like I’m inventing anything new here.”
The intro track to Mercy, “Talk To The Lord,” has calming reggae influences that seem to have been created simply to wash away human worries. Simple and satisfying with solo voice, choir features and some light island-inspired drumming, this track is pure groove and feels like a true psalm.
“I’m Going Home” could have come straight off of Fleetwood Mac’s Tango in the Night or Simon and Garfunkel’s Bookends: it’s classic Americana. With some free-spirited bass, this song moves along in a way that generates feelings of pure internal excitement. Bergman sings of feeling out of place on earth but looking forward to a future after this life.
A soft rock piece, “Home At Last,” is an acoustic focal point of this project. Bergman’s Helena Deland-like breathy and intoxicating voice shines through, especially here. Gentle and introspective, it asks all the important questions that invade after the death of those loved, showcasing lyrics straight from Bergman’s poetic heart. This is the song she says her father would love most.
“Your Love is my Shelter” is a song that makes one think of Lana Del Rey with its long, ethereal ballad feel. Bergman sings, “Swollen sky/ death wants to eat me alive/ I miss your blue eyes/that you gave to me/ I see the white pines/ That you planted out on our last ride/ what you said to me/ that you won’t be here forever.” The lyrics reference the last time she saw her dad on a bike ride, with a remark he made about himself not being able to live long enough to see his trees grow. This is one of the songs on the album that truly addresses sorrow, all shrouded in some hypnotic psychedelic piano and synth-like sounds.
“Sweet Mary” is about Bergman’s step-mother. This is a soulful and gospel-like tribute. “We played on TV/ the late-night show/ you dressed me up in Valentino/ you were so curious/ about the music/ the men I loved/ all my muses/ I felt your love.” “Last Farewell” tells the story of when Bergman and her brother got the call about their parents passing, right before they were about to perform at the Radio City Music Hall. It’s a strong ending that echoes out into the abyss in quiet hums, layered harmonies and a melancholy bow on the strings of a cello.
Mercy is an album of loss, hope and faith. Its inspiring retro makes it simply great. Bergman said of her solo project, “This album provided me with my only hope for coming back to life myself.” Bergman put a piece of her soul into the making of this project, and it shines through in every note.