OH MERCY – GREAT BARRIER GRIEF
“Listening to Great Barrier Grief is like sailing on a beautiful boat on a calm blue sea under a cloudless sky. Only there's a shadow moving under the water. Something dark and hidden ready to strip the flesh from your bones before they wash to the shore.” Paul Kelly
Great Barrier Grief is set for release on 4 March, 2011.
“Great Barrier Grief is certainly not an eco-warrior title, but instead a reference to a point in time; a challenge to overcome, or a complex situation,” says Alexander Gow. “It’s meeting an incredibly beautiful person, but having a mental or physical barrier between you.”
With its title more than just a play on words, the second album from acclaimed Melbourne band Oh Mercy promises to be one of 2011’s most exciting releases. Eleven tracks of evocative acoustic pop Great Barrier Grief was inspired by the Australian ‘sound’, and our way of life: the classic songs and songwriters who’ve soundtracked our lives. Timeless in feel, Great Barrier Grief is a confident, purposeful album.
Eventually, with 30 songs under Gow’s arm the album was ready to take final form. Enter one of America’s most respected producers, suggested to the band by a mutual friend: Mitchell Froom.
Having recorded albums with the likes of Pearl Jam, Elvis Costello and Sheryl Crow – not to mention recording Crowded House’s seminal self-titled debut – Froom was the perfect choice to help guide Oh Mercy in their next endeavour. Gow decamped to sunny Santa Monica, working out of Froom’s home studio and whittling the 30 tracks down to a final 12.
“Mitchell was and is a wonderfully generous, kind and talented man,” says Alexander. “I consider myself privileged to have worked with him, along with his half-man/half-wizard engineer David Boucher. I think we made a very good album of simple arrangements, lots of acoustic guitar, lots of words, some marimba, and a healthy amount of congas.”
Two tracks from the record, ‘Keith St’ and ‘Stay, Please Stay’, will already be familiar to triple j listeners. Live favourites on the road, the songs have been given a brand new life as captured by Oh Mercy and Froom on the new longplayer.
Inspired by the sort of classic Australian albums which shape our history, Great Barrier Grief marks a whole new horizon for Oh Mercy, and the songwriting journey of Alexander Gow. Paul Kelly, arguably Australia’s most respected songwriter, agrees, recently naming Oh Mercy in The Age EG as a new band who inspires him to write.
“Making this record, it’s a different mentality,” says Alexander of Oh Mercy’s latest effort. “We know people are going to hear this album, whereas with the first we thought maybe it was just going to be my mum and a few friends. That mentality changes the way you write a little bit – it’s more exciting. We wanted to make a record with someone who isn’t simply interested in pop music, but the integrity in pop music... and I think we’ve done that.”