Picture yourself in a smoky, unlit café sipping on a drink while listening to a seductive singer crooning under a single spotlight. It’s an old image that has appeared in many films and stories but is less common as an actual musical style. Singer Mercy Weiss brings that aesthetic to reality with her dreamy vocal delivery, evidenced on her recent EP Mercy.
The L.A.-based Weiss’ music is very minimal, with a consistent focus on her laid back, alluring voice. In the EP’s first song “Ice Cream,” for example, the backing instruments are low in the mix and there is very little production. The song’s style fits right in with the paradigm of a late-night serenade. She sings about fixing a troubled relationship with many dessert analogies: “Maybe we could work it out / you’re already freezing / my cherry pouts.” She delivers the lines slowly throughout the song, leaving ample space between phrases, which further contributes to the melancholy mood.
Even though Weiss’ vocal style remains consistent throughout her work, her compositions don’t necessarily stay within the same musical style. One “Love Dust,” she employs a waltz feel, complete with an accordion accompaniment. The song still has a faraway sound, but the accordion and the time signature give it a different flavor. She continues to sing about trouble in love, writing, “Dumb lust is love dust, hooray / sprinkle the sadness away… I’ll give you anything to stay… dying to give this heart away.” The words and musical style continue to fall into the narrative of the tortured soul.
Things aren’t always so dour in Weiss’ music, though. She offers a more upbeat mood on “A Torrent,” a duet with collaborator Christopher Pellnat. The song has a folky acoustic guitar accompaniment along with accordion again, this time playing along with the vocal melodies. In the song’s first line, she sings, “You were like a torrent that took me in my dream,” which seems to suggest a more hopeful view of love.
Weiss proves capable of more musical surprises too, as shown on the song “Evil Baby,” which uses a driving drumbeat and more groove-oriented instrumentation. It’s almost jarring in the context of the rest of Mercy, but Weiss maintains her same vocal style, which rightfully becomes the consistent thread through the EP.
Mercy Weiss seems clear on her own vocal style and brand that she is putting out to the world. Her singing is engaging and consistent. Musically, however, she seems to be still searching for a signature sound. While it’s admirable to incorporate different influences, she still needs to find an identifiable sound palette from which to draw. Combined with some pitch issues and lack of production, it seems that Weiss is still finding her way. With her voice though, she is clearly sure of herself and her sound. When someone is starting off a music career, one can’t ask for much more.