“The image is just really striking and dense with movement and possible interpretations. The picture ‘feels’ like the album feels to me - intense and cathartic, with elements of surprise and songs that speak to new beginnings,” explains Ed Kowalczyk of the cover of his new album The Flood and the Mercy (Soul Whisper/Harbour/Caroline Records), due out Oct. 29.
A striking image by photographer Douglas Sonders of the explosive moment that a big splash of water hits Kowalczyk from behind, it’s the perfect symbol for this album – immersive and engulfing, fully drenched in emotion and musicianship.
“The Flood and the Mercy is really about the fact that life can go through these dramatic periods of movement, maybe even suffering, while simultaneously revealing great truths about yourself and even strength that you never knew you possessed.”
Kowalczyk’s second solo album, produced by Jamie Candiloro (R.E.M., Ryan Adams, Willie Nelson), is a progression toward the music he’s been striving to write.
“I definitely feel as if I've moved forward in a major way in terms of my songwriting and singing on this record,” he says.
Accompanying him on this album are influential friends, singer/songwriter Rachael Yamagata and R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck.
“I'm really blessed to have Peter and Rachael on this album. It definitely feels serendipitous to have this caliber of guest musicians at this pivotal moment for me as a relatively new solo artist,” he explains.
“‘Holy Water Tears’ with Rachael singing on it is such a special moment for me in my career. It doesn't feel like a ‘duet’ to me. There is more of a union of voices and personas than a typical duet. The first time I heard it, I fell into a musical and artistic swoon. It's a deep song. Peter Buck’s performances on the record are so Zen and effortless and singular. He's just an absolute genius.”
The first single “Seven” was inspired by “a book by an anonymous writer from the 14th Century called the The Cloud of Unknowing. It’s always been a go-to for me over the years for its profoundly moving description of the process of releasing or surrendering everything for Truth,” he says of the song’s origin.
“‘Seven’ is my reply to it in a way, or an extension of my understanding of it at this point. Life is a road with all kinds of unexpected turns and surprises and sometimes, no matter how strong you think you are, you get crushed and can’t find the light. Light breaks down into seven primary colors when viewed through a prism. In a way, life in all of its ups and downs, losses and victories, is just that pure Light that we truly are, but seen refracted by the ‘prism’ of this personal lifetime and experience.”
Emerging from York, PA in the early '90s with multi-platinum band Live, Kowalczyk helped define alternative rock with breakthrough albums Mental Jewelry and Throwing Copper. He continued on with an equally important solo career with his debut Alive.
Next, The I Alone Acoustic Tour will revisit his full oeuvre… acoustically. “This tour is my new passion for sure,” he says. “I love blowing people's minds with the intensity of the emotion and the intimacy the show inspires. My fans were ready for it. It's selling out all over the world and it's a testament to their ongoing and powerful devotion to my music, in whatever form it takes.”