Review Archive

‘That’s Life’ from Have Mercy Las Vegas - hits ‘different’ squarely between the eyes

(November 28, 2014)

It’s an infrequent occurrence, but when a previously unheard-of band comes to my attention with an iridescent, unique sound it’s definitely ‘sit up and take notice’ time. As I’ve said so often, new is easy, Have Mercy Las Vegas album coverdifferent is difficult. Without doubt, the spectacularly named Have Mercy Las Vegas and their album ‘That’s Life’ hit ‘different’ squarely between the eyes. There’s a refreshing diversity of styles and influences threading through this album. To set your expectations, think deep Scottish roots, razor sharp Americana, trad and contemporary Appalachia embellished with touches of folk and country blues – do that and you’re halfway there. To complete the picture, add blisteringly tight musicianship and perfectly interlaced harmonies.

Whether running at full-tilt or taking time with slices of life, ‘That’s Life’ has a completeness to its multi-influenced music, clearly identifying its multiple heritage and taking the blend into distinctive places. Proceedings kick off with the title track‘That’s Life’, a ‘heartache ballad’ if there ever was one and a fine example of their layered influence and inheritance, which leads into ‘Carlisle’ an Americana-inspired piece of balladic-folk, before the foot-stomper ‘Pappy’ ups the tempo. From there ‘Barn Stomp’ encourages an audience to ‘rip up the boards’ with its step-inducing energy, ‘Bonnie and Clyde’builds a racing narrative ahead of a deeply-felt, ‘scruff of the neck’ sadness driven through ‘Drinking Heavily’ and the harmony rich ‘Minds Made Up’.

To call this Americana is not enough, to call it folk misses the mark, let’s just call it damn fine music and leave it at that. The ‘live’ show must be exhausting physically and emotionally … can’t wait.

Have Mercy Las Vegas are Crispin McAlpine (lead vocals, guitar, ukulele, mandolin) Eilidh Trotter (lead vocals, guitar, glockenspiel, ukulele, mandolin) Stephen Scott (banjo, mandolin, harmonium, backing vocals) Marc Mclean (bass guitar, acoustic guitar, backing vocals) Phil Plunkett (drums, percussion, backing vocals) and Andrew Napier (fiddle, backing vocals). Experience the difference here:

Reviewer: Tim Carroll

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