mehro's "Dark Corners & Alchemy" Is a Beautiful, Perversely Revealing Work
Photo: Hadar Pitchon
Awakenings, the big ones, never leave you the same as the day before—the ones that make you shiftless in all your old thoughts, leaving you in a word, uncomfortable. They can be sourced to trauma, religion, or overcoming tragedy, but the ones procurable through music rife with intellectual levity are not a pop music specialty. Possibly an anachronism, more likely an outlier. If you dress your curiosity in thoughtfulness, are willing to wrestle with your entertainment, and taste the sour to balance the sweet, then mehro’s sophomore album Dark Corners and Alchemy is the ultimate proxy to end-of-the-tunnel enlightenment. It s a beautiful, perversely revealing work that calls out both our contrasting nature and an artist's fight for creative elbow room, an ambitious work that qualifies for study, an early candidate for album of the year.
mehro has long been a student of music, reveling in its energy since childhood but the ambition of this record is partially rooted in a study of Johnny Cash (although in conversation, both delivery and visage had this writer imaging Jeff Buckley), most specifically influenced by the biopic, Walk The Line. A deep appreciator of film and tv, the construct of his songs always retains a living soundtrack ethos, a purpose layered in many references, a dialogue not just to his audience but our collective subconscious as well (equally evidenced in his excellent video accompaniments). Unlike many young songwriters, mehro very much embodies the spirt of a well-worn journeyman, a wounded poet, a proxy for life’s living proverbs, much as Johnny and Jeff did before him.
Pulling yourself into dark corners, while always part of the human condition, is never the most comfortable for either the artist or the listener but certain bodies of work make it a melodic boundary worth crossing, just for the pure creative joy that lies in the shows of fear. Dark Corners and Alchemy is twelve songs of deliberate delineation, revealing in its spinning compass of song selection: one, the most recent single "princes of melancholia" hints at both an on-the-range cowboy tune, and an Italian lento love lullaby, the next excellent single, "pretty kids," is a punchy post-punk tune, with scratchy guitar chords perfectly fit in a Costello or Replacements catalog, then the beguilingly quiet and rueful "monster" features bright and light tones to balance the dark drapes of mehro’s voice, a fashioning that would make Robert Smith envious.
A concise summary of the depth of the album defies easy description, like alchemy is best understood in wondrous appreciation, a placebo for hope over staining empiricism. Whatever the poetic class may say about this album, it is irrepressible in its replayability, an album that like a great film score, can melt into every crevice of your life, soundtracking the highs and lows, forging into an ineffable awe, a reverence for living. If it was not understood previously, after this album, mehro will be understood as one of the best songwriters of his generation, a chemist of chords, sorrows and the sanguine, a cultural gold we all get rich by.
Listen to Dark Corners and Alchemy below: