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Released July 2022!

Infused with love to the last line, the new album from singer-songwriter Michael Kiel Cash effortlessly blends stunning poetry and earnest spiritual devotion with a layered approach to American roots music. 

Aptly named, Shores of Mercy offers 12 intimate tracks running the gamut of American folk genres, from blues to soul to hymnal. Featuring an impressive host of 17 guest musicians, the songs on this timely album range from the subtle to the spectacular.

Songs like “Pinhole Pass” and “Winged Kiss” shine as understated ballads, carried by silken fingerpicking and Cash’s classic storyteller voice. Others achieve layered and complex compositions, like “Lying with My Baby,” an upbeat yet laidback soundtrack to summer, which builds to a surprising and ecstatic crescendo that mirrors the song’s final image of crashing waves.

Despite its consistent and recognizable sound, Shores of Mercy never feels predictable. “Hymn of the Harvest” features an organ and five-part ensemble choir to create a sacred atmosphere, while songs like “Hoophead’s Country Blues” and the album’s closer, “D&RGW Chili Line Blues,” deliver exactly what they promise: classic American blues bolstered by rich storytelling. The album even manages, intentionally or otherwise, to touch on the Celtic roots of American folk music, with songs like “Love’s Arroyo” (featuring flute and violin) and Muscadine Wine, which masterfully weave together the musical traditions of the old and new worlds.

Above all, Shores of Mercy showcases the earnest and vivid poetry of Michael Kiel Cash, who seems to draw equal inspiration from folk songwriters and spiritual teachings. In fact, Cash’s spiritual devotion is ever-present on Shores of Mercy. The album effortlessly fuses the mythology of American folk music with the songwriter’s clear mystical presence to create a unique and intriguing approach to modern songwriting. Building on this, the album closes with the line “hope to see you when we reach the end,” which speaks to the gentle and all-encompassing oneness Cash imbues in every song.

On Cash’s Bandcamp, he includes a note for his listeners: “Dear one! I have no answer, but I believe in your listening. Forget these little pieces, you are the song!” Throughout the sonic journey of Shores of Mercy, listeners are bound to feel a sense of Cash’s humanity, compassion, and genuine investment in his listeners. Tuck in for a listen to this new album and be prepared to be taken “to the edge of space and time/where the rubber meets the mind.”

‘Shores of Mercy’ album review

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12 months ago

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