Have Mercy: ‘A Place of Our Own’ Track-by-Track Album Review

When I first heard of Have Mercy, I could tell I had hit gold. The first song of theirs I heard was the sweetly named “Let’s Talk About Your Hairwhich I came across on an 8tracks playlist (how original of me). The night I found that song, I listened to it for three hours straight. Literally; three hours listening to nothing else but the comforting melody of that song. So I knew when the Baltimore band released this album, the world was in for something special; and in this article, I will tell you why it’s a release you should not miss out on hearing, track-by-track.

“To Convey”: Have Mercy have craftily chosen a sweet, minute-and-a-half long song to open their stunning album, and they couldn’t have picked a better song to introduce the long awaited release. The song opens with a gentle strumming of a guitar chord, coupled perfectly with Swindle’s voice. The lyrics are clever and deep from the offset and are hauntingly repeated throughout the song; “I remember your hands on my throat / a sweet reminder how you’d never let go”. The introduction of the drums changes the direction of the song, adding a strange sense of beautiful anger in place of the pure vulnerability present at the beginning. The versatility of Swindle’s voice becomes apparent when he adds a harshness to his vocals that complement the lyrics and overall feel of the song wonderfully. Ending as gently as it started, “To Convey” is a great opening song and it definitely builds the anticipation up to listen to the remaining 10 songs on the album.

“Two Years”: Quite like the previous song, “Two Years” opens gently and builds up to a belter of a chorus, even though it’s only 2 lines of lyrics. Swindle demonstrates the rawness to his voice yet again to astounding quality. There is a kind of angry desperation in his voice which is quietly, yet perfectly, mirrored by the instrumentals backing up the stunning voice of the lead singer. Have Mercy have perfected the art of telling a story through their lyrics which, as a listener, is an experience in itself. This song is easy to listen to; it’s a very fast passing of just over four minutes. It’s a great song, my favourite bit being Swindle’s voice (which will be a highlight throughout the album, trust me); definitely a must-hear.

“Howl”: This was the second single the band released from A Place of Our Own and it is honestly one of the best songs I have heard recently. It is paired with a lovely video (which you can see here) which enhances the already marvellous song. The pre-chorus is inconceivably catchy, mixing majors and minors flawlessly, and I have found myself singing it throughout my day-to-day activities. Not that I’m complaining in the slightest. The lyrics again tell a story, one which is dripping with love, care and comfort. The purity and subtlety of the lead guitar is easily overlooked in this song, but it’s a clear high point in the song to me. The abruptness of the ending is suited to the rest of the song, adding another dimension to this already beautifully layered song. A definite favourite of mine, not just from this album but from the band in general. Please don’t skip this one!

“The Place You Love”: This song is a bit less gentle than the previous ones on the release, but it’s still oddly soothing in a way that only Have Mercy can accomplish so successfully. The lyrics are simply stunning, jarring and just plain sad (“I’ll let you call me darling / but you don’t mean it yet”). There is a faint air of desperation which has crept into this song which is mirrored in Swindle’s vocals, yet again. Near the end of the song, a new voice is introduced; singing the first verse again, which is a technique that works really well in this instance. In my opinion, Swindle’s vocal overshadows the one used near the close of the tune and Swindle could have easily taken on the verse himself and executed it wonderfully. “The Place You Love” passes very quickly and is a hugely enjoyable listening experience and it’s a track I wouldn’t miss out on.

“Pete Rose and Babe Ruth”: I wouldn’t be surprised if Have Mercy choose to release this song as their next single. Once I had listened to the first verse and the chorus, I got an odd Angels and Airwaves feel off this tune. The spacey, constant guitar transports you to a different place entirely. Swindle purposefully makes his voice soft to complement the guitar and it’s a match made in heaven. The first verse and the chorus speed by without you noticing, as you listen in a happy daze, until about 2 minutes in, where all instrumentals are cut and you are alone with Swindle’s gentle vocals, accompanied with the odd low guitar tone. This juxtaposition of sound gives “Pete Rose and Babe Ruth” a special place on this album – especially when the music is fully re-introduced at a volume not seen before in the song. It’s a perfectly fine song and I can imagine it being a popular release if the band were to do so, but I was not as excited about this track as I was about the others. Still a good listen, but not as good as Have Mercy have done in the past.

“Spacecrafts”: This song has a very anthemic feel to it, reminding me slightly of Biffy Clyro at the beginning especially. This was the first song I heard off this album, as it was the lead single released by the band. The huge guitar riffs and massive drum beat make it so easy to imagine this song being effortlessly played in stadiums. Again, the lyrics are touching (“I wish I knew everyone as well as you knew me”) and are conveyed with plain emotion by Swindle which is simply stunning. It’s a song that should be, and has been, received well by the bands’ audience because it is just so easy to listen to, which gives promise for it being well-received by a wider audience yet to experience this band.

“Plastic Covered Furniture”: This is by far my favourite track on the album. The opening notes are friendly and warm, introducing the song perfectly. Again, Swindle’s voice is standoutish, and is the main focus of the song in my eyes. The lyrics are some of the strongest from the whole tracklist, forcing the listener to engage with the meaningful words; “I was in every single picture you never hung on your wall / You put me on the back burner / And I will be there ‘til you need me in your life”. There is an anthemic vibe off this track, which Have Mercy are almost experts in achieving throughout this, and previous releases. The realism and harsh truthfulness of the lyrics in this particular song are oddly comforting, which is a hard thing for an artist to achieve. This track is one of my favourites, if not my favourite, from A Place Of Our Own. It’s engaging, catchy and wonderfully beautiful in every single aspect.

“Pawn Takes Rook”: The introduction to this song is jarring; Swindle’s voice hits notes it hasn’t previously ventured near, and he executes them flawlessly. When the second guitar is introduced, it’s simply spine-chilling. The harshness of Swindle’s voice after the breakdown is one of the best displays of vocals throughout this whole album; actually, this song in general displays how talented the lead singer is. He adds pure emotion that makes every single Have Mercy song hard to ignore, which is the pure beauty of this band. I haven’t encountered talent like this in a very long time, and it’s songs like this that make me forever grateful that I stumbled upon this band. This is a hard hitting song which is so easy to listen to, which makes you unwittingly press repeat over and over again.

“Inch By Inch”: This acoustic song instantly reminds me of a City and Colour song, which is a great homage to another great of this music genre. There is a vulnerability present in Swindle’s voice that is honestly quite beautiful; it gives me goosebumps from the very first second. The lyrics “She moved closer inch by inch”, plainly displays the inspiration behind this song. It captures the sweet moment of two people slowly falling in love, until the very last line; “I don’t want your pity or your fake smiling teeth / I just want someone to love me”. It’s just another astonishing display of storytelling by Have Mercy that pulls right at your heartstrings, in a way no other band has done for me personally, in a long time. It’s an honest, intimate song that is greatly enhanced by the acoustic aspect of the track. By choosing to make this song with a lone acoustic guitar, the emotion of the song is felt ten times more than a “normal” Have Mercy song.

“Nails and Teeth In Pavement”: Yet again, the lyrics of this song are the focal point for me. They’re sweet and caring (“When all’s said and done / You’re scared and I’ll hold you / I’ll tell that it’s okay”) which is lovely to hear, especially when it’s contrasted with the fervent vocals used throughout. It’s a very intense song, which leaves you breathless as you listen to the singer pouring his heart out during the three and a half minutes. Some may find it hard to listen to as it is quite harsh, but I have no trouble at all listening to this song for hours on end. As the penultimate song on the album, it packs a punch that has been felt throughout the album, but it still isn’t boring to listen to; a true show of talent in my opinion.

“Lean”: Swindle echoes the guitar riff perfectly, which is a beautiful way to open the last song on this marvellous album. The gentleness of his voice at the beginning is hugely contrasted after the breakdown of each verse, a technique Have Mercy have almost called dibs on they execute it so well. This track shows off all of Have Mercy’s talents in just over three minutes; the spectacular voice, the flawless instrumentals, the way they can transition between gentle and harsh so seamlessly and their hard hitting lyrics. It’s a great way to end such a successful sounding album; it’s definitely one you shouldn’t miss out on.