Fistful of Mercy. The song. The Band.
10 years ago, this would have been a wet dream for me. Ben Harper and Joseph Arthur. On the same album. WOW. Now it is only Totally Terrific. I had a sort of falling out with Ben Harper in the latter half of the 2000’s. I liked the albums. But I just didn’t live them. There were great songs, great moments. But in the late 90’s and early 2000’s I lived Ben Harper. I had the chance to meet him over 10 years ago. And I came away with an even more positive opinion of him. I have seen him three times live now, most recently a few weeks ago at a special performance at the Edmonton Folk Music Festival. This last performance rekindled my love for his music.
Joseph Arthur on the other hand adorns the walls of my office. I have four of his prints and a necklace hanging above my computer. His art and music inspire me on a daily basis. I have 6 of his t-shirts all for the artwork. His last album “Temporary People” topped my “Best of 2008” list.
So imagine my surprise when I look on Facebook and find that the two of them together with Dhani Harrison (of the band thenewno2, and with his late father George Harrison) have recorded an album together under the moniker “Fistful of Mercy”. I just finished watching 67 minutes of them performing the songs live on KCRW’s excellent show “Morning Becomes Eclectic”. The performance was raw and unpolished. And magical. The best moments are when their harmonies play together.
The story goes that Dhani and Ben met at a skateboard park, and Joseph had opened for Ben on numerous occasions (and Ben recently played with Joseph at a couple recent gigs). Joseph then booked 3 days of studio time, texted Ben, Ben then called up Dhani and asked if he would like to help out with some songs with the 2 of them. Dhani shows up, asks if he can learn the songs from Joseph and is in turn told they haven’t written any yet. So in the 3 days, the wrote and recorded the 9 tracks on the album. They then brought in legendary drummer Jim Keltner and Jessy Greene and finished off the album. The result is an amazing collaboration that sounds polished and raw at the same time.
I have been listening to it for the last half hour, and likely will continue to. If you enjoy, check out their KCRW performance here.
“Always down against the grain, we are.”