It Was You

by Tender Mercy

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Tender Mercy is all that the name implies, a kindness wrought with delicacy and restraint, a reminder that we aren’t alone. With “It Was You,” Tender Mercy helmsman Mark Kramer eschews the norm here, collaborating with a whose who of local talent on a project that represents a bit of a sea change in his catalog. Gone is the gently plucked guitar, the music as much the space between the notes as the chords that he chose, replaced by the unique vision of the people involved, Kramer’s melancholic voice the anchor that ties past to present.

(Words:Mark Kramer Music:Nick Sturtzel)

(Words:Mark Kramer Music:Michael Seymour)

It Was You
(Words:Mark Kramer Music:Alexander Smith)

(Words:Mark Kramer Music:Syd Bishop)

Make You Mine
(Words:Mark Kramer Music:Shutaro Noguchi)


released March 12, 2016

Mastered by Brian Lueken at Decibel Mastering
Cover art: Thaniel Ion Lee
Cassette layout: Evan Patterson
Cassette insert design/layout: Lacey Guthrie

Nick Sturtzel
Michael Seymour
Alex Smith
Syd Bishop
Shutaro Noguchi
Sean Padilla
David McDonley
Lacey Guthrie
MaryLiz Bender
Evan Patterson
Jesse Ceilings/Folk O Rama
Isaac Arms
Jon King
Logan Nichols
Cody Johnson/Soft Self Portraits
Winter Of Twenty-Six
Andrew Lampela/Haffa's Records
Zach Hart/We Listen For You
Sir Nathan Douglas
The Internet Does Not Exist
Travis Searle/Guestroom Records
Sean Liter/Modern Cult Records
Yim Anderl/Ghettoblaster Magazine
Tony Presley/Real Live Tigers
Tim Barnes/Dreamland
Dust Segretto/The Living Room Series
Shaina Wagner/Poorcastle
Paul Bugala and Family
Joe Anderl/The 1984 Draft
Daisy Caplan
Tim Sauer/This Man Is Not My Father
Emily Hikes
Joey Danger/The Soundhole
Jeff Blinder

This is one of the local acts I get really excited about, so I'll try to stay focused. Tender Mercy, to me, has always been about an ambiance. I think the music borrows a lot from black metal in that respect. Tonality and spacial relations are themes in Mark Kramer's work as much as the lyrics. But with his upcoming five-track release "It Was You," it seems Tender Mercy is exploring new textures and dynamic structures through previous avenues.
It's easy to fall into a trance-like state with much of Tender Mercy's work, but "It Was You" finds ways to interrupt this flow for the listener. While the sonic qualities of the album are expansive (thick reverb, etc.) the percussion on the title track, in particular, is almost dancy. The track "Path:Trails" has a similar effect on its listener, specifically during the chorus, in which Mark nearly whispers the first two words of each line, and melodically explodes the rest, asking "Are you blazing a path, or are you following trails?"
"It Was You" will be released under Bright Tonight Recordings this Saturday, March 12, at Dreamland, with Michael Seymour and Psychic Skin and Tender Mercy. This is one of the more challenging releases I've heard so far in 2016, so pick up a copy and give it all of your attention. -----Logan Nichols/37 Flood

The last time we heard new music from Tender Mercy (Mark Kramer), it came in the form of Sacred Sphinx, his excellent 2015 album. He has seemingly mastered his approach to ambient, atmospheric folk, constructing songs at a truly minimalist level utilizing just his voice, an acoustic guitar and the air in the room.
To change things up, his latest release, titled It Was You is a collaborative effort with a nice selection of Louisville artists that bring a new arsenal of instrumentation making use of synthesizers, electric guitar, and even some use of a drum machine. Each song features a different guest, making each track a truly unique experience.
Phillip Olympia/Never Nervous

Tender Mercy's fourth release (Second on Bright Tonight), while bringing the melancholy croons expected from Mr. Mark Kramer, takes a drastic twist to what is expected. The packaging as expected is very minimal yet beautifully crafted with the download card stamped with silver ink to compliment the package. Visually it looks very nice and professional!
Now the music itself is where the story takes a twist, especially in the Tender Mercy chonology. While Kramer handles the vocals and lyrics this time it's a quintet of guests that make up the music within and in essence no two tracks sound remotely the same. "Precision" (Featuring Nick Sturtzel) opens with spacey synths as a voice gently howls to compliment the gloom. It sounds utterly eerie and dare I say haunting. "Path/Trail" (Featuring Michael Seymour) in terms of instrumentation is the closest to previous releases with a murky, minimal tone as the backdrop to a song very well implied to it's title.
The remaining three tracks take a different turn musically with the title track in terms of sound. The title track (Featuring Alexander Smith) in terms of sound is the biggest contrast to the vocals with an upbeat indie sound to a faded, dissonant howl with it's climax being like a burst of light to all the dim. The crystalline "Closed" (Featuring Syd Bishop) and the solemn "Make You Mine" (Featuring Shutaro Noguchi) close out, leaving five songs with their own musical twists to an ambient folk core. Compared to the previous releases the tones are drastic but the atmosphere still maintains.
-Cory Fusting/Doodlehound



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Tender Mercy Louisville, Kentucky

"An absolute treasure to Louisville music"
-LEO ( review/)

Louisville's Mark Kramer (aka Tender Mercy) crafts softly dramatic experimental folk ballads that analyze the hypnotic ability of sound.
-Zach Hart/We Listen For You (
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Track Name: Precision
I don't know a thing about your conflict
a bomb is still a bomb it has no brain
I don't give a shit about your conflict
a bomb is still a bomb it has no brain
but I know one thing there's no such thing as precision bombing
Track Name: Path/Trail
Looking back you can't see
whats coming at you the way your facing
are you blazing a path
you hear the train coming but don't see
what hit you until it's gone
are you blazing a path
or just following trails
Track Name: Closed
The trail through the thorns
it all makes so much sense now
you were so close
but I was so closed

Now I'm on my own path
the crumbs have all washed away
I was so close
I mean I was this close
now I only see closed doors
Track Name: Make You Mine
I don't want to make you mine
I just want to be your's
I don't want to own your mind
I just want you to know mine