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Ed Kowalcyzk - The Flood and the Mercy Album Cover

Ed Kowalcyzk - The Flood and the Mercy

Reviewed by
7.5
This review was written by an AP.net staff member.
Ed Kowalcyzk: The Flood and the Mercy
Record Label: Sony/V2
Release Date: Oct. 29, 2013

Depending on which narrative you follow, the career of Ed Kowalcyzk is either horribly disappointing or tremendously inspiring. Kowalcyzk, the vocalist for the ubiquitous alt-rock band Live, made himself a household name with his bare-chested videos, antic stage presence and his rather open-ended view on spirituality. After an ongoing feud with Live co-founders Patrick Taylor, Patrick Dallheimer and Chad Gracey reached a boiling point, Kowalcyzk was kicked to the curb in 2009.

Regardless, he soldiered on with a solo career but spent much of that time facing the onslaught of his former bandmates, a feud which continues to this day. The Flood and the Mercy represents the third solo effort of the incredibly enigmatic, unquestionably dynamic and unmistakably polarizing lead singer. While there are a few head-scratching moments, the album is arguably one of his strongest to date and definitely makes for a compelling listen.

The album opens with "The One," a craggy and borderline predictable slice of modern rock crunch. That unmistakable voice is once again in the forefront as the rhythm section surges over a confident, brazen and brawny opening salvo. From there Kowalczyk segues into the celestial landscape of the airy "Seven," a song that vacillates between twinkling synths and a dark and stormy chorus. Considerably more accessible and direct than "The One," "Seven" has a tilt that suggests it might do well on AC formats. Arguably the first big wow moment of the disc, "Seven" is a strong song from a songwriter who has made a career of penning a myriad of chart-toppers. "Angels on a Razor" opens with just Kowalcyzk and a guitar before unraveling into another sturdy mid-tempo rock effort. Coasting on the power of his deeply expressive vocals, the song is another positive step forward and winning effort. The disc's first half concludes with the angst-ridden rocker "Parasite," the haunting ballad "All That I Wanted" and the confusing albeit ferocious "Take Me Back."

A vernal acoustic guitar opens "Holy Water Tears," the first cut on The Flood and the Mercy's flip side. A shuffling mid-tempo duet with Rachael Yamagata the song is laden with armfuls of AC appeal and makes for another even-handed and safe effort that shows Kowalcyzk's maturation as much as it does his lack of wallop. As if on cue, he ups the sonic ante on the snarling and propulsive "Supernatural Fire," a song with tons of bite but not much insofar as message. On the contrary, the self-discovery anthem "Bottle of Anything" has a timeless and age-old appeal that is the back half's first truly indelible moment. Thankfully, he follows that up with "The Watchman's Lament," a soaring and air-tight effort that is easily one of the strongest on the entire disc. The Flood and the Mercy closes with the gorgeous piano ballad "Cornerstone," and a cryptic, unnamed hidden track.

When all is said and done, Kowalcyzk has crafted an album worthy of discussion but one that is entirely far too puzzling. For starters, it's hard to wonder what market Kowalcyzk will appeal to aside from die-hard Live fans. As mentioned twice before, AC formats seem a logical choice, especially given the limitless appeal of songs like "Cornerstone," "Holy Water Tears" and "Seven." But perhaps what is most puzzling is why Kowalcyzk felt compelled to write another album of craggy modern-rock efforts instead of chasing down something more placid, ageless and enduring.

Perhaps only time will tell, and that's probably just the way he likes it.

Recommended If You Like Live, Daughtry, Fuel, gosh I don't know


Tracklisting 1. The One (3:48)
2. Seven (4:28)
3. Angels on a Razor (4:09)
4. Parasite (3:48)
5. All That I Wanted (4:33)
6. Take Me Back (4:46)
7. Holy Water Tears (4:28)
8. Supernatural Fire (3:32)
9. Bottle of Anything (4:15)
10. The Watchman's Lament (4:00)
11. Cornerstone (8:11)

Produced by Ed Kowalcyzk

Guest musicians: Peter Buck (guitar)
Rachel Yamagata (vocals)


Find Him Here http://www.edkowalczyk.com/
 
Displaying posts 1 - 3 of 3
08:47 AM on 10/28/13
#2
Phil507
Cynical and sarcastic dick
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I realize many people on this site might be too young to remember but it was borderline absurd that a band such as Live were considered "Alternative" in any way. I don't mean to insult the band by that but, unlike their forefathers in U2, R.E.M. and Pearl Jam (probably the bands they modeled themselves after) they never had much of an interest in making any strange artistic turns (save for Secret Samadhi) and always operated on the big anthemic arena rockers. It's almost comical to watch their mid-90's footage (and the fact that Rolling Stone made them "Artist Of The Year" in 1995).

Also, this guy seems like a grade-A prick. The reason for the band breaking up was, apparently, he demanded $100,000 "Lead singer bonus" at the Pink Pop festival.
03:13 AM on 10/29/13
#3
Gregory Robson
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I realize many people on this site might be too young to remember but it was borderline absurd that a band such as Live were considered "Alternative" in any way. I don't mean to insult the band by that but, unlike their forefathers in U2, R.E.M. and Pearl Jam (probably the bands they modeled themselves after) they never had much of an interest in making any strange artistic turns (save for Secret Samadhi) and always operated on the big anthemic arena rockers. It's almost comical to watch their mid-90's footage (and the fact that Rolling Stone made them "Artist Of The Year" in 1995).

Also, this guy seems like a grade-A prick. The reason for the band breaking up was, apparently, he demanded $100,000 "Lead singer bonus" at the Pink Pop festival.
You are correct, sir. He's been known to be a diva, but is at the same time beloved by many. I'm just trying to alert some that enjoy Live's music or Ed's voice about the existence of this album.

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