Colin Hay

Fierce Mercy

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Being a working songwriter suits Colin Hay. Arriving in early 2017, just two years after its predecessor Next Year People, Fierce Mercy bears many familiar traits from Hay's albums of the 21st century -- it's mellow yet wry, mellifluous with a bit of grit -- but it feels fuller and richer than its immediate predecessors. Hay handles the production on his own this time, and he's given himself a bigger, bolder palette, a shift that's evident from the opener "Come Tumblin' Down." Lively and bright, "Come Tumblin' Down" sets the tone for Fierce Mercy. While Hay certainly indulges in moments of quiet contemplation -- "Two Friends" is gentle and rustic, "A Thousand Million Reasons" offers a shimmering electronic balm, and "The Best in Me" is a signature, ambling, friendly pop tune -- Fierce Mercy is distinguished by the moments when Hay aims slightly for left of center. "Secret Love" rings out like a muted Phil Spector production," "Frozen Fields of Snow" rolls along with echoes of late-'60s progressive folk, and "I'm Going to Get You Stoned" has a soulful undercurrent that underpins a nice tale of a generational divide. This narrative could've fit on previous Hay albums, but what's appealing about "I'm Going to Get You Stoned" in specific, and Fierce Mercy overall, is how it's bathed in rich, vivid colors -- and that expanded sonic range makes this record a cut above Hay's reliably pleasurable offerings.

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