TREY ANASTASIO has announced that he will be releasing his first-ever solo acoustic album, MERCY, this Friday, March 11.
Below are excerpts from the album’s liner notes written by David Fricke:
“Mercy is a genuine and surprising first for Trey Anastasio: his studio debut as a solo, acoustic singer-songwriter. The nine songs were all written in the emotional ricochet of recent, pandemic life, then recorded with the absolute purity of one man with a guitar and a microphone. There is nothing like it in Anastasio’s lifetime of albums, even after nearly four decades as the singer, guitarist, and primary composer in Phish, numerous side projects, collaborations, and the long-running Trey Anastasio Band.
“’I’ve never done anything like this before,’ Anastasio confirms. But the last two years of fear, loss, and, at times, devastating quiet have been unlike anything most of us have ever known. Mercy is Anastasio’s account of that confusion and isolation in unresolved questions and conflicted passions, in a music of quietly gripping force. And it arrives with the same immediacy: just weeks after Anastasio recorded it and two years – almost to the day – since his adopted home, New York City, went into lockdown.
“Mercy ‘is like a bookend,’ Anastasio explains. ‘It’s two years since we went into hiding. This is still going on, and it’s an even lonelier trip.’ There were highs along the way – a Phish studio album, Sigma Oasis, in the spring of 2020; Anastasio’s ‘Beacon Jam’ charity concerts that fall, livestreamed from New York’s Beacon Theater; and Phish’s return to the road in the fall of 2021, during a brief window between variants. Most of the time, though, ‘Here I was, still at home, playing acoustic guitar. I thought, ‘These songs just want to be one guy with a guitar, singing.’
“The roots of Mercy go back further – to Anastasio’s first tours as a solo, acoustic performer, starting with three shows in 2017, followed by longer runs in 2018 and 2019, highlighted by a sold-out two-night stand at New York’s legendary Carnegie Hall. The setlists were largely made up of Phish songs stripped to their chord progressions, signature licks, and vocal melodies. ‘But I found this weird thing happening,’ Anastasio recalls, ‘where ‘Maze’ – an eight-minute trip on 1993’s Rift – ‘worked on acoustic guitar. Who would have thought that? ‘It’s about the jam, the organ solo.’ Turns out it wasn’t. It was about the lyrics and the music.’
“Then in June 2021, Anastasio played his first shows for live fans in more than a year – a week of solo, acoustic gigs in Saratoga, New York, and back at the Beacon. The songs again were mostly from the Phish bag. But the emotional exchange ‘was like a direct path,’ Anastasio recalls, ‘from my heart to the audience. The honesty and simplicity of those shows – without it, this album would not have happened.’”
Mercy was produced by Bryce Goggin and Robert “rAab” Stevenson and engineered and mixed by Mike Fahey.