For years hyper-prolific Mercy Choir mastermind Paul Belbusti has been releasing a steady stream of albums, EPs, and singles, quietly becoming New Haven’s Bob Pollard, both in output and killer melodic hooks. Recorded with an assemblage of live analog instrumentation and portable digital gizmos, Belbusti embraced various styles, from anything-goes electro-acoustic noise experiments to bittersweet hushed folk ballads and traditional, sometimes blown-out, rock and roll. Rock typology aside, the intent and delivery was always pure, with the resulting sonic landscape sounding like nothing other than Mercy Choir.
Mercy Choir’s Twin Lakes debut, 2015’s Sings in the Traditional Rock and Roll Style, marked the first time Belbusti recorded with a full band backing him. On More Than Ever, he’s taken a similar approach, this time with a revamped lineup: Tim Goselin (guitar), Chris Zollo (keys), Brian Slattery (bass), Bruce Crowder (drums), and Loralee Geil (vocals/percussion). And this time around, Belbusti enlisted sound engineer Scott Amore (Mark Mulcahy, Butterflies of Love, Famous Problems) to record the band in New Haven’s historic Lyric Hall theater.
More than any previous Mercy Choir recording, More Than Ever captures the depth, clarity, and joy of seeing the band perform live in an intimate setting. The songs are arresting and a testament — not just to Belbusti’s continuing evolution as a gifted songwriter, but to the strength of all of its contributors. One hears a cohesive unit playing with the confidence and trust in one another rarely heard from a band that’s only been together for a couple years. We hear Mercy Choir stretching out and highlighting stylistic aspects of material and taking it to unexpected heights — percussive and vocal flourishes, incisive guitar leads, subdued, snaking rhythms and perfectly placed drum fills all jump off the palette and onto the canvas when and where they belong. Sometimes the band just lays out and rocks — happy to perform gems and point (hard) at the parts they like with an open grin. These songs call to mind old friends, listening to music drunk at 2AM, enjoying their arm goosebumps together. These songs pull you by the neck hairs with sour breathfuls of close admissions and conspiracy. These songs are closed-rolled-eyes good, and even after repeat listens, when the record's over, we're back to the beginning listening to what we thought was something else last time but is even more so...now more than ever.
Sings in the Traditional Rock and Roll Style reviewed in The Metal Dad (2015)
Sings in the Traditional Rock and Roll Style reviewed in The New Haven Independent (2015)
Mercy Choir featured in IMPOSE Magazine's Week in Pop (2015)
Lonesome Noise premiers "Birdwatcher", the first single off Sings in the Traditional Rock and Roll Style (2015)