RVG – A Quality Of Mercy
RVG – A Quality Of Mercy (2017)
A band makes a certain statement when it puts out an album whose title track is the first track and also the first single. I have to imagine these decisions are often made with some level of marketing input. Sometimes it even seems compensational, like as if to its marketers and label bosses the music in the album felt lackluster, and hence track sequencing, album naming, singles decisions or all three were reconfigured to induce a false sense of urgency and give the album a little extra nudge.
Luckily that's not the case with A Quality Of Mercy, and not just because the first-track title-track single was released well after the actual album (in a different country, on a different record label). The album requires no cheap tricks to conjure urgency. It's straightforward soul-baring rock, the kind that rips the mic off the stand and kneels down in front of the audience and vomits raw emotion. "Guess what, it's pretty unfair, they're gonna give me the electric chair." The first lyrical bar of the album throws us into the shoes of an unfortunate soul about to be executed, apparently, for getting into a drunken scuffle and killing someone. Singer Romy Vager has one of those immediately overpowering, "alpha male of emotional expression" kind of voices, perhaps like a Paul Westerberg or Robert Forster (RVG draw a clear lineage to the latter's 80s band, fellow Aussie countrymen The Go-Betweens). The words trace portraits of characters getting crushed by adversity or finding salvation, or both, all in a day's work, while the music stirs and vitalizes.
A Quality Of Mercy has made its way into my "Friday" rotation over the last month or so, and so has become bound to the moments and recollections of sitting here at my makeshift home workstation, gazing longingly out the window as the afternoon sun begins to arc down toward the horizon. This is not music for being stuck inside: it incites adventure, shouting from rooftops and road tripping through rolling hills, or the unhinged honesty of happenstance encounters. Nevertheless, I suppose I'm thankful that my worst complaint is "being stuck inside," and for now I'll settle for having this invigorating album carry me into my weekends.