The album opens with its title track. Mercy‘s intro works as an intro to the album as well, slowly layers are peeled off (or actually the layers are slowly put on, but for metaphors sake) and the song opens up like a blossoming flower. Rocco’s vocals slightly remind me of John Ondrasik, just a little lower. There’s also a little Dave Matthews in it. But musically, Rocco can meet with these excellent singer/songwriters. Mercy is a statement and opens the album strong. Maybe not Rocco at his very best, but it’s damn close.
Next up is the song that should’ve been the debut’s title track. But oddly enough it ends up on the sophomore album. It has a sound that grabs back to the debut with the blues-rock influences and Rocco’s intense and soulful vocals that penetrate inside your head. The song has the same magical experience surrounding it that made Rocco so special to begin with.
The Painting also has that mystique around it but it’s more progressive than Rocco’s first album. The angsty and mystical feeling of the song is used within the build-up of the song and slowly but surely the song works to an energetic and passionate climax where mr. DeLuca can show us his talents. Probably one of the album’s finest songs.
The storytelling in Open Pages is memorable, and so is the song itself. Without a doubt my favorite song on “Mercy”. The emotional and direct connection between musician, music and listener is so tangible that, for me, it’s a great example of what music is all about.
The single Nightingale is an interesting song. The intro is great and DeLuca’s penetrating vocals remind me of Deep Purple’s glory days. Maybe just better. Don’t get me wrong, Deep Purple is legendary, but Rocco shows he has the stuff to become legendary himself.
Save Yourself is more upbeat and more angsty than the previous tracks. It has a good drive and would make a very decent rock single that kind of feels more in place with “ITYTKM” than with the material from “Mercy”.
The drums and bass on Any Man provide a cool groovy sound that is completed by the slide guitar and Rocco’s bluesy vocals. One of his better tracks on the album. Quite progressive, though that term would be more in place a few decades ago than it is now.
Lilja is an interesting song with a wide range of musical influences, but it’s not getting to me. It sparks my interest with it’s unusual approach and different sound, but it also kind of lulls me to sleep.
And I’m not really getting the urge to wake up during Bright Lights, at least not until the 2nd half of the song kicks in where things get a little more interesting. Really not Rocco’s best work, but the track is kind of like a good cheese, it needs to age a little before you digest it.
At first I misread the title of the track and I thought it said ‘Funky Valentine’ and that got me excited, cause apart from the play on words, I’d like to see Rocco play something funky. But the track’s called Junky Valentine. Rocco, however, manages to mix the different influences together into something musically outstanding. It’s not uptempo or catchy, but it’s oh so sophisticated and lyrically profound.
Which only leaves us the album closer, When You Learn To Sing. This is a little more mainstream again and Rocco pours his heart out on this track that would make Cat Stevens proud.
“Mercy”, for the most part, is completely different from “ITYTKM” but it still has the highest of qualities and shows the longevity of DeLuca’s talent. He and his band delivered an album that can meet the expectations. It doesn’t have a catchy hit like Colorful on it, but the true music fans will definitely (learn to) appreciate this excellent album.