courtesy Daniel Mery
San Antonio native Daniel Mery has released a new solo EP that's quite possibly is the best collection of music to come out of San Antonio this year.
Besides contributing lead guitar to electronic pop group BLXNCO and Jed Craddock’s band, Mery has performed as a solo artist around town while working toward his law degree.
After completing his degree last year, Mery began work on an album of his solo work when he struck on the idea of recording live versions of the songs to see how they’d turn out.
That led to the five tracks that appear on LIVE! (from a bedroom)
Opening the EP is “Bleed, the Beast,” a song that Mery wrote when he was experiencing feelings of helplessness and hopelessness.
“It’s kind of like a death by a thousand cuts,” Mery said. “When you have self-destructive feelings creeping up on you, and you lose control and you fall back into negative patterns that are comfortable.”
“Bleed, the Beast” opens with the looped sound of a guitar pick hitting muted strings. That provides a percussive element as finger-picked chords balance out Mery’s floating, tenor vocals.
The song sounds like what might happen if Thom Yorke from Radiohead and the late Elliott Smith had a sad, sad baby. It’s poppy in the most haunting way, offering a sense of hope that you can't quite believe.
“I was dealing with failing health and a lot of other factors in my life that were high-pressure and high-stress,” Mery said of the EP's subject matter. “Music was a way for me to create my own therapy in that regard and allow it to be a release, and a lot of inspiration from this EP came from that.”
Mery was diagnosed with pancolitis a few years ago, which resulted in kidney failure last summer and a subsequent cancer scare. Today, his symptoms include pain, lethargy and sometimes intestinal bleeding, which can result in Mery not being able to eat for days at a time. The second track on the album, "Ad Infinitum” was inspired by his diagnosis.
The essentially acapella piece features Mery singing through a looping effects pedal to create harmonies that become chord progressions.
My failure, could it be real?
All my life I never thought that I was good enough
In my life I never thought that I’d be here
My patience is holding my tongue
It taught me more about myself than I could learn from us
It tore me down, and built me up, and now I’m here
The song draws the listener in without instruments, using Mery's voice to form rich textures.
The rest of the EP holds true to form as a melancholy piece of work. And even though the last song sounds upbeat and is in a major key, its lyrics convey a sense of longing. The piece was inspired when Mery meet a local girl while studying international law in Austria. He began falling for her but didn't pursue a deeper relationship because living on different continents while pursuing a relationship seemed pointless.
Although the EP is a somber affair, there’s a rawness and quality to the music that listeners can relate to.
Mery hasn’t planned a local release party — he’s playing a show in Brooklyn on Friday and will have hard copies there — but after some encouragement from friends, he’s thinking about organizing one closer to home.
Whether or not there San Antonio gets that opportunity, LIVE! (from a bedroom)
is a phenomenally well-crafted collection of songs that absolutely should be heard by anyone willing to listen.
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