Maia Sharp Offers Most Personal Songs Yet Through Deeply Emotional Folk, Americana and Pop on ‘Mercy Rising’ (ALBUM REVIEW)

Maia Sharp is probably known just as much for her songwriting skills for others – having written for everyone from The Chicks, Bonnie Raitt and Lisa Loeb to Cher and Edwin McCain, among many others – as she is for her own albums. But her latest, Mercy Rising, could change that. Across a dozen tracks of deeply emotional folk, Americana and pop, Sharp offers some of her most personal songs yet and the result is a cohesive set that is deeply satisfying.

Leaving her native Los Angeles and relocating to Nashville in 2019, Sharp admits to looking at things a bit differently. “In the last 2 years, just about everything that could have changed has changed and it feels now like those long walks outside of all of my comfort zones were heading toward this album.” Working on the album at a friend and fellow musician’s studio, Sharp was able to take advantage of some of the city’s best musicians to help shape Mercy Rising, while drawing on longtime influences like Joni Mitchell and Raitt as well as inspiration from her contemporaries, like Jason Isbell and Phoebe Bridges. The blending of these influences offers a record the manages to be both timeless and remarkably current.

Songs like “Not Your Friend,” about watching a crush fall for others, or the seemingly autobiographical “Nice Girl,” combine some of Sharp’s slyest, smartest lyrics yet with incredibly enjoyable music. The album hosts a slew of slow burn tracks, like the bluesy “Junkyard Dog” or the stellar “Backburner,” that may not stir up a lot of dust musically but lyrically hit remarkably hard.    

Whether she was writing for herself or penning songs for others, Sharp has spent decades building a solid reputation of delivering emotionally frank music that manages to be as subtle as it is effective. And it appears she has saved some of her best for Mercy Rising, a powerfully moving album that rightfully puts her in the spotlight once again.

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