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The Wild Mercury
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  • Following the rustic tones of 2013's traditional murder ballad set Oh, Willie, Please., Mark Heidinger's long-running alt-folk project Vandaveer turns inward on what is perhaps his most personal and well-constructed collection yet. Joining him is longtime musical partner Rose Guerin on vocals, and the duo's personal Wrecking Crew of satellite members Robby Cosenza, Justin Craig, and J. Tom Hnatow, each of whom instills The Wild Mercury with a warm, collaborative richness that enhances Heidinger's vision. The heartfelt mix of introspection, wanderlust, and wit that have become Vandaveer's hallmarks are laced here with themes of aging, parenthood, relationships, and the struggles of maintaining a musician's nomadic life. Whether it's the desire to put down roots on the buoyant "A Little Time Off Ahead" or reflecting on past bands, friendships, and follies on "To Be Young, To Belong," Heidinger explores the complexities of the human condition with masterful precision and a poignancy earned through experience. Musically, Vandaveer exist in the loose associations of Americana, but their pop acumen is apparent in the thoughtful, clever arrangements of songs like "The Final Word" and the impressive title track. Atmospheric textures also play a part here, lightly coloring album-opener "But Enough on That for Now" and more heavily guiding the sublime "Absolutely Over the Moon." On an album replete with highlights, Heidinger and Guerin save the best for last, intertwining their dusty voices to deliver the devastating closer "A Pretty Thin Line," a seven-minute epic whose themes of anxious uncertainty and regret are underscored by the band's beautifully spirited arrangement. ~ Timothy Monger
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