released February 5, 2014
Produced by Mark Kramer
Recorded at The Scooter Room,Louisville,KY
Mastered by Brian Lueken/Decibel Mastering
The Hort/Monkey Drive Screen Printing
Real Live Tigers
Joe Anderl/The 1984 Draft
Matt Taylor/Plastic Bubble
Timothy Sauer/This Man Is Not My Father
Never has a musical project had a more apt name than Tender Mercy. The now-solo venture by Mark Kramer, Tender Mercy explores singer-songwriter compositions so utterly stark that they almost fade away entirely. With his newest release, As Someone Else You Embrace the Moment In Us, Kramer induces an atmosphere of glimmering, if distant hope. Delicate, each song is a testament to restraint and refined beauty, focusing intently on the interplay between Kramer’s spare guitar work and voice, which somehow manages the careful balance between brittle and powerful. What sets Tender Mercy apart from other folk music is the barren landscapes Kramer works with, that each song hinges on the slightest sounds, making as much use of the space around each note as the note itself. It’s this tenuous nature that informs the tension throughout the all-too-brief EP, which carefully embraces the listener. Kramer is an absolute treasure to Louisville music. — Syd Bishop/LEO
Louisville's Mark Kramer (aka Tender Mercy) crafts softly dramatic experimental folk ballads that analyze the hypnotic ability of sound. If you're fortunate enough to see a Tender Mercy live show, Kramer's music becomes illuminated by its skill to repeat and relearn. It's also obvious on tracks like "In Us". The track introduces an idea that slowly and skillfully loops on itself and seems to grow into a more powerful form as the sounds matures through time.
We often use the word hypnotic to convey a powerful emotional that allows the listener to get lost in the music. With Tender Mercy and other experimental folk projects, the word hypnotic is used much more literally as flourishes and flash are put aside for the attempt to capture in sound the image of a pocket watch swinging rhythmically before our eyes. It's hard to accomplish such and when musicians like Kramer do so on tracks like "In Us", the experience is unique and rewarding. This type of music is challenging, even in its simplicity, so give it a few spins, let go, and sink in. -Zach Hart/We Listen For You
Over the last couple of years, Mark Kramer has quietly mastered his craft as a singer/songwriter as he continues to embrace the lo-fi/minimalist folk subgenre. (That is a subgenre, right?) No reinvention of the wheel here, just slow, beautifully crafted songs that feature only himself and his acoustic guitar. No drum machines, no synthesizers, not even an amplifier. And this is a good thing, because with Tender Mercy, less is always more.
As Someone Else You Embrace The Moment In Us is Kramer's first since his excellent 2011 effort The Road To Good Intention Is Paved With Hell, and while the set up is mostly the same, there a few evolutionary divergences with his latest batch. The songs on this album showcase a voice that is a bit more confident and commanding, and the recording itself is a little more polished. Now that the piano from a few years ago is long gone, the dense, echoing reverb helps thicken up the atmosphere.
At about 18 minutes in length, it's a smooth, quick listen from front to back. And while I recommend listening to this album in its entirety, the song I recommend checking out is the spellbinding fifth track "In Us." Absolutely recommended. -Phillip Olympia/Never nervous.com
Fans of lo-fi slowcore like Songs:Ohia, Elephant Micah, and old-school Damien Jurado will have something new to cheer about in Tender Mercy. As Someone Else You Embrace the Moment in Us consists of five songs that never get louder than a single fingerpicked guitar, Mark Kramer’s forlorn voice, and tape hiss. The songs are slow, low, and heavy on atmosphere: discerning between the songs is possible (there are breaks in the tape hiss to mark song changes), but it’s not really the best way to enjoy this set of tunes. Instead, it’s best to let it wash over you; there’s enough gentle reverb on the tracks to imagine that you and Kramer are in a big room where he’s singing just to you. If you move too quickly, you’ll miss the tranquil beauty in it. -Stephen Carradini/Independent Clauses