“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.”
Since 2009—when he left Live, the widely-loved band that he’d led for more than two decades—the habitually restless singer-songwriter-guitarist has experienced a remarkable creative rebirth that continues on The Flood and the Mercy.
Such compelling new Kowalczyk compositions as “The One,” “Seven,” “Angels On A Razor,” “Parasite” and “Holy Water Tears” maintain the artist’s trademark blend of rousing widescreen songcraft and introspective, soul-searching lyrics, while drawing upon an expanded sonic palette that deepens the material’s emotional resonance. Also lending their talents to the project are R.E.M.’s Peter Buck, who plays guitar on much of the album, and Rachael Yamagata, who adds her unmistakable voice to three of the 11 tracks.
“This album and these songs are an extension of what I’ve done in the past, but I think I’m going a little deeper now,” Kowalczyk asserts. “The lyrics are still very exploratory, but I would say that the overall feel is a little darker, and coming from a place of intense change and some personal challenges. And there are definitely some anger-management songs on there, which makes it a lot different in tone than my first solo album.”
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.