As is often the case with interesting new music, Tender Mercy (aka Louisville’s singer/songwriter Mark Kramer) is the kind of project that doesn’t bother to apologize for not fitting neatly into a box. While the name may conjure an image of a Christian rock/metal band, the religious aspect mostly comes out in the form of trance-like atmosphere of live performances – cosmic gospel for a new age.
To push the gospel analogy further, much of TM’s music is unapologetically bleak/dark (to wit – Fear, War and Disaster are just few of the titles on Leave Little Room, project’s latest). As Kramer explains in an interview with Leo Weekly:
What I do seems to alienate most people. It’s on the dissonant side of quiet, ‘depressing’ music, which is a hard sell. People don’t like being made to feel that way.
While its true that Tender Mercy’s music is not for everyone, those that grew up on a steady diet of Kranky, Red House Painters and Low’s output will have plenty of reasons to sink their teeth into TM’s back catalog (liner notes on Leave Little Room also mention the influence of Shirley Horn and Julien Baker).