Sunday, June 1, 2014
2014 Miner Family Winery Stage
"I feel like I've gone to a different place with this one," Ed Kowalczyk says of The Flood and the Mercy, his second solo album. "I really feel like I've hit a different stride, and I definitely think it's the start of a new era for me."
The Flood and the Mercy continues Kowalczyk's association with producer/multi-instrumentalist Jamie Candiloro, with whom he first collaborated on the 2013 five-song limited edition EP The Garden, and whose studio resume includes projects with the likes of Ryan Adams, R.E.M. and Courtney Love. "Jamie and I really got into sync creatively and worked really closely," Kowalczyk says. "It was a real one-on-one approach, without any restrictions, and I think that it really brought out the best in me and the best in these songs. I feel like Jamie's helped me to expand as an artist and reach a higher level, as far as the production and the musicianship and the arrangements go. There's a lot going on this record, but I think that there's a real cohesion to it as well."
The musical intensity and emotional immediacy that run through The Flood and the Mercy are consistent with the qualities that have defined Kowalczyk's work since the late 1980s, when, while still in middle school, he co-founded the band that would eventually become known as Live in his hometown of York, Pennsylvania.
Between 1994 and 2009, Live staked out a singular musical niche, releasing seven acclaimed studio albums, playing countless live shows and building a remarkably passionate fan base that continues to embrace Kowalczyk's solo work. Along the way, the band sold over 20 million albums worldwide, leaving an indelible mark upon the lives of listeners around the world.
Kowalczyk launched the next chapter of his musical life in 2010 with the release of his first solo album, Alive. That personally charged collection consolidated the lyrical and musical standards that he'd established with Live, while setting the stage for The Flood and the Mercy's bold leap forward. The feeling of creative liberation that suffuses The Flood and the ercy has extended to Kowalczyk's recent live shows, many of which he's been performing in a stripped-down acoustic format that emphasizes the emotional immediacy of his new songs and old favorites.
"I'm having a blast," he says. "There's nothing to hide behind, and I'm impressed at how well the big rock songs on the new album come off when we play them acoustically. People tell me that they came to the show expecting to hear pretty versions of the songs, and that they're surprised at the intensity. I feel that way too. The music has always worn its heart on its sleeve, but now it's a bit more in your face, because the soul is so bare in an acoustic environment."