Album Review of Maia Sharp: Mercy Rising
Maia Sharp‘s album Mercy Rising drops today, May 7th, 2021. A quick look at the artists for whom she’s written give you the first indication that the songwriting’s going to be strong, and Maia clearly wrote for her own voice here, emphasizing the strengths in her voice and delivery style.
Maia’s voice reminds me of Tommy Shaw, perfectly suited to the soaring, ’70s AOR sound of the title track, “Mercy Rising.” There may be a little Glenn Frey in there, too, with a deft touch on songs like “Backburner,” where Maia builds up energy, then sets it sail into softer seas with the subtlest vocal tap.
“You’ll Know Who Knows You” has a hint of funk in its soft-rock DNA, as it rolls and flows while allowing Maia to vary her vocal rhythm and punch the right notes and phrases.
Strummer “Nice Girl” is one of the many songs that turns some clever lyrical phrases, here in the chorus with, “Hey, you’re gonna make some nice girl miserable some day.”
Other favorites on this disc include the heartfelt “When the World Doesn’t End,” the sentimental “Things to Fix” with its peppy tempo, and the smoothly syncopated heart-to-heart “Not Your Friend.”
You’ll find a bit more of an edgy blues-rock vibe on “Junkyard Dog,” while you’ll feel well-designed discomfort during the softly powerful “Missions.”
The album ends with the bonus track “Always Good to See You,” one final plaintive plea to close a powerful album.
Mercy Rising is one of those records you listen to beginning-to-end. Well-crafted, soft enough to listen while you work but engaging enough to warrant giving your full attention during a headphone listening session. Maia’s voice is rich with a hint of a ragged edge, the songs are deep musically and lyrically. Pair it with jazzy, smooth soft rock with mainstream sensibilities like the solo stuff from Don Henley or Glenn Frey, maybe Joshua Kadison or some of the smoother Martin Briley tunes. Or, you know, just settle in with a blanket and warm coffee, watch the trees sway and flowers bloom outside your window, play Maia’s new disc on repeat and settle in.
Live music is slowly returning. You’ll be able to find Maia’s shows on the “Shows” page of her website.