Album Review :
Ray Torres and the Mercy - Ray Torres and the Mercy

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Band: Ray Torres and the Mercy

Album: Ray Torres and the Mercy

Label: None

Released:  June 15th 2011

Buy: Amazon / iTunes

This is one of those independent releases that are tough to classify and write an accurate description. The sound of Ray Torres and the Mercy is tough to peg to just one particular genre and that can definitely be a good thing for this up and coming group. The songs range in emotions from spiritually engaging to heart tugging ballads all with an emphasis on melody.  The production on this self titled release is by far superior to a lot of “independent” releases that I hear on a daily basis. You can tell that special time was taken to make sure each song was executed perfectly.  When I first heard this album I had to take a step back and double check that I wasn’t listening to a major label top 40 band. Well as you can tell this independent band has yet to find that major label deal but it is certainly on the horizon.

The album starts off with “The Rising” which is a powerful song in itself, guitar heavy and accented by Ray Torres’ strong voice.  Reading these lyrics, I can tell I am on to something special and not defined by typical genre classifications (Worship).

Touch my mouth with your hands
Perfect in your will is where i need to land
I give my dreams and let you steer the way
If I’m in your hands I’ll be ok

“Moving Through the Sound” is the second song on the album and again it’s quite clear that the strength of Ray’s voice is leading this song. The guitars are great and perfect compliments to the melody found on this song.  Lyrically this song deals with throwing off burdens and embracing your first love.

there’s this pain in side, it comes from all this running
and there’s this strain in my thighs
but i gotta keep on moving
 I’m tossing off this weight
losing what’s to heavy
I’m racing I’m running
and nothing gonna hold me
when i freed up and I’m running
(I’m moving through the sound reading all this ground)
when i break down all these pieces

My personal favorite song, “Redirect” is track 3 on this album and from it’s light piano intro you can tell that something special is about to happen. There is a certain build up and momentum that begins when the song starts. That is what I love so much about it and the fact that these non traditional “worship” type lyrics would be something I’d love to sing in Church without thinking to myself, “man, this music is cheesy, bring on the rock!”. It’s quite clear that this a song about being broken and needing that relationship with God to bring peace. A new life in Christ.

this brokenness is what i really wanted not just the dreams
that i dreamt and flaunted
its all the clutter that raced inside of my mind thats blocking me from you
I’m new I’m new and i believe it
I’m moving forward pass these broken pieces
i redirect the pulse of my desire and point it right back to you
 
all i wanted, i needed
i crush my knees until I’m fully broken
i can see it all the pieces go on and on till its clear

“Spinning” is more of a instrumental track (1min12sec long) which leads right into the next song “All My Lines”. This song has a few guitar solos and the heavy weight of Ray Torres’s voice being brought in. The lyrics can be read in different interpretations but this is what I get out of it: This song is about leaving all your sins, mistakes, burdens at the Cross and moving out of the self-created box we put ourselves in.

i tell a lie but the truth comes out
all i seem to is cheat myself
all my lines are going in circles now
its spinning so fast just let me out
 
I’m going out the back door
I’m scared you’ll see my blacken soul
and i scared of us locking eyes
cuz one glimpse you see though my lies
all that I’ve been doing is boxing myself in
all these walls around me got me suffocating
 
I’m going out the window
looking back of all the things i once owned
and I’m scared of us locking eyes
cuz one glimpse you’ll see through my lines
all that I’ve been doing is boxing myself in
all these walls around me got me suffocating
 
and ill tear it brick by brick these wall that I’m in
I’m leaving it here again
and ill never look back to all the thing i had, mistake that i made
and these that i said
I’m leaving it here again

“The Pulling” starts off with some piano and sets a more subdued, somber mood. This is more of a kick back song, pulling you in with its subtlety, candlelight type guitar solo. This is another “build up” type song which builds momentum throughout the track ending in a wall of guitar solo, cymbal crashing, and then back to the softness of the voice and piano. For some odd reason I could see this being played at a department store.

I’m taking the dark out my life
my heart is begging for the light
I’m feeling cold of it now
this empty room is all that’s found
I’m feeling the pulling, back to where i belong
i thought i was losing my heart from every single song
 
all that I’m trying to clear this mind
and all that i want is to feel your heart

The peppy “Brand New Beat” is up next and it’s a charming poppy little number filled to the brim with guitar solos and piano beat. This song lyrically is kind of self-explanatory showing that we all have a brand new beat so to say from a relationship in Christ. This song has saxophone and it fits the poppiness and all around good nature of the emotions expressed by the melody. How can you go wrong with a Saxophone solo? Definitely adds to that unique factor this band has going for them.

now I’m on my way
I’m living and I’m rising from this grave
and now i see
the peace thats deep inside of me
 
i was always breaking down
letting emotions get to me
my voice was always losing sound
but i gotta continue to sing
now i running through the valley
fearing nothing around me
sprinting to a brand new beat
the kick drum in my heat the rhythm never stops
the fire of you is in me
 
IVE GOT A BRAND NEW BEAT!!!

“Melody and Sound” is another somber song which begins with some light strumming on the guitar and some cymbals lightly being hit. This is definitely a more low key track.

this is all i have the melody and sound
this all yours father i hope your proud

“What We Love” is the powerful next song that has that background vocal “whoa oh oh” which really adds to the quality of song.  I just love the lyrics to this whole song so I am going to post them all below.

everyones got their
 own little secrets
everyones got their reasons why
we all search for understanding
in our lives its our life
and everyone’s got their diseases
that kills the life from us deep inside
and we repeat what we hate and dislike
its not right its our lives
 
everything changes but nothing re arranges
and we fight what we love and love what we hate

The album closes with the song “Cold Water” which is an encouraging song about staying strong in the midst of “Cold Water” that seeks to drag you down.

everyone’s got their favorite sin
and everyone’s got there day to die
we all play with this thing called grace
it’s our lives it’s not right
and everyone’s got their deceases
that kills the life from us deep inside
and we repeat what we hate and dislike
it’s not right it’s our lives
i been staring so long at the sins that pass me by
i throw far from me and bring em back into my life
 
I’ve been rolling with changes trying to move to forward places
but this bring to this place in my life
i come close to this ocean side
and I’m fearing what awaits me
i inch in till its up my thigh
and freezing and it scares me
the waves crash and it takes me under
and i question this decision
i come up and prepare for another
and it hits me oh so quickly
 
this cold water drags me down
and pushes me
but i just gotta hold my ground

Scott Silletta (Plankeye/Fanmail) produced this album and it’s clear that his production techniques definitely added a certain depth of sound that this band might not have attained had they gone to any other local studio. Scott is a talented producer who has a deep history of being involved in production, songwriting, etc. for a number of bands, including his own. You don’t always need a “label” to sound good and have that professional “sound” so many seek after.

Overall:  This is an inspirational album yet doesn’t border on the “cheese” factor that so many worship driven groups get caught up in. Ray Torres and the Mercy are an independent band doing songs about Faith, and Love, many of which could end up in a modern Sunday service if Churches were more receptive towards stepping outside the box. This album is proof that you don’t need to drop the “J Bomb” every couple lines to make a point and emotional impact on lives. Just because “Jesus” isn’t thrown around thoughout this album doesn’t mean it can’t be considered powerful worship  and inspirational rock for the fan desiring more substance in their music. This is Ray Torres and the Mercy’s second album and if it’s any indication of the direction they are heading in, I can tell you right now that they will be a band everyone adores after just one listen. Ray’s voice is stronger (I’ve said that multiple times in the review) than most “artists” playing a similar brand of rock and you can tell he has experience at his craft. In conclusion, this is one of my favorite “Indie” releases of 2011 and goes to show that quality is not about how many facebook fans you have, twitter followers, or even +’s on Google, it’s about depth of song, melody, and execution of each track.  If you can create an album as powerful and moving as this one without the backing of a label, this further proves  you have that “it” factor.  If you’re a fan of everyone from Dashboard Confessional to Jack’s Mannequin and even a heavy dose of Maroon 5 mixed in with some 90’s alt rock, you’ll find something to love about Ray Torres and the Mercy.

Score: 9/10 based on songs, lyrics, substance, and the ability to “move me”. There is still plenty of room to grow on future releases and the next one might just be a perfect  10/10 in my book ;)

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