Pat Grossi first grabbed my attention in 2011 with his debut full length as Active Child, You Are All I See. As so often happens these days, I received a free mp3 of a track from the album, the glorious "Hanging On", which led me to the full album which eventually landed at #4 on my Best of 2011 list.
Mercy is the follow-up album to You Are All I See, although Grossi has been far from silent. The New Jersey native's Rapor EP was as good as many full lengths released in 2013, a perfect six track gift to help make the wait for the next album less difficult.
Mercy may clock in at only 36 minutes, just 13 minutes more than the Rapor EP, but I will always take a concise, flawless collection over a sprawling, over-long album loaded with filler. Grossi continues his run of outstanding work with this album. What I've enjoyed the most following Active Child's work is the progression of Grossi's sound. Yes, most bios will focus on that soaring falsetto of his, and for good reason. And let's not forget his proficiency on the harp. But Active Child's music continues to expand upon the synth-pop roots of You Are All I See. Electronics are always a part of the equation, but Rapor saw Grossi delve much more into an R&B sound, a direction that continues on Mercy.
The ten songs here are an exploration of love and its various stages. On album opener "1999", no it's not a Prince cover, Grossi reminisces on past loves, while the next track, my personal favorite "These Arms", is a declaration of devotion. The multi-tracked vocals that close the song are simply heavenly. The title track is a slinky, sexy slice of soul, check the backing vocals on this one. "Temptation" is another standout, a darkly hypnotic, sensual song tailor made for late night activities.
As with any album exploring love, there are sadder aspects to the subject. "Darling" explores a love lost over a sparse arrangement of little more than Grossi's falsetto and harp. And yes, it's gorgeous. And the piano based album closer "Too Late" couldn't be more explicit in its subject matter, a love that has simply run its course with no hope of a recovery. It ends things on a somber note to be sure, but not every story has a happy ending. Mercy, however, was destined for the same ending as You Are All I See. One of my favorite albums of the year, #7 in fact.
Favorite tracks: "These Arms", "Mercy", "Temptation", "Too Late"
Mercy was released June 16th, 2015 on Vagrant Records.