SASHA MERCEDES & MARKY BABY – 6-Track Sessions
From the Bayfield area comes Sasha Mercedes, vocalist, songwriter and primarily an acoustic guitarist. 6-Track Sessions is her third album of self-released originals in a narrative style. Mercedes is a consummate do-it-yourselfer, not only playing multiple instruments and at times playing all the parts herself, but also engineering and producing the majority of the recording. She does this admirably, without sacrificing feel. On several tracks she is joined by Marky Baby Rossow, a multi-instrumentalist in his own right who adds some sweet, mellow-toned electric guitar to songs like “I-95” and “Mid-July.” The latter track also benefits from his soulful organ playing, and he contributes saxophone, bass and drums on other tracks as well.
The exception to these formulas is the song “Amen,” which was recorded by Tom Fabjance, longtime sound engineer for the Smashing Pumpkins and Mazzy Star, who now lives in Ashland and is a lively presence in the thriving Duluth/Northern Wisconsin music scene. Jordan Grunow provides electric guitar on the track, which also toys with electronic music courtesy of Fabjance’s programmed drums.
Elements of Mazzy Starcan be heard in the musi,c but they lack the lush vocal treatments. In fact, much of the record is in a dry, singular voice, with sparse instrumentation. Something truly wonderful happens on the song “Let Me In,” however. A fuller frequency range, a bit more reverb on the vocals and Mercedes singing some strong harmonies with herself on the choruses combine to create a beautiful sound, making it the highlight of the album. “3 Blind Mice” comes in a close second with similar clarity, a buoyant vocal melody, and some sweet sax and guitar from Rossow. “Grandpa’s Gun,” a track played entirely by Mercedes, is a soulful ballad that focuses on the piano with some splendid acoustic guitar and organ flourishes. “Witz End” is a likeable and earnest tribute to the late, famed Stevens Point club.
Merecedes is a talented vocalist, able to convey her well-arranged tunes genuinely and effectively without any of the overwrought delivery that plagues many female singers. It seems only logical that she form a band and try her hand at touring and re-creating these songs more accurately in live settings. It makes sense that music-lovers around here and in other places would take a liking to her as well.