Kathleen Regan finds great solace in her music. She often uses it as a means of expressing how she views the world around her, and that ethos is rolling forward with full force with 2020 coming down to its closing months.
After a hiatus away in Ireland, a place her family lineage is rooted in, the Bostonian intoner returns with an offering from her latest EP, 'People & Places (volume 1),' a record inspired by countries she's visited and the people she's met along her musical path.
Her latest sneak-peek from the archipelago of folk numbers featured on her latest record clings to her past, gripping onto the most fleshy and vulnerable narratives like kudzu and denoting every perspective of her journey back to homeostasis with enamoring style.
On "Mercy," Kathleen Regan gathers from the touchstones of her folk legend influences and distills a sense of dismal longing and remorse with the helping hand of her guitar, beckoning for audiences to attach the sentiments she's oozing with to their own emotional strifes, as a form of cleansing.
Over the chugging melodic strums of her warm-tempered acoustic guitar, Kathleen glides buoyantly through immersive orchestrations of anthemic percussion and drums, symphonic strings that drone in the lush backdrops, and a diverse array of harmonics that flourish every time her sentiments stir up over the hook: "oh, I try to have mercy, father forgive me, for what I can't forgive."
She recalls the emotional turbulence of a toxic relationship that's festered into every aspect of her life, and through a captivating display of passion and duress, Kathleen seems to relive those moments in "Mercy."
Her voice quivers and waivers with a sullen temperament, and yet, the harmonies that diffuse from her hugging sonic voids reason with the Bostonian intoner, begging her to ("have mercy, have mercy,") as she decries her history; shedding the skin of past trauma, and coming out the other end stronger than before.
If there's one thing for sure, it's that Kathleen is better off far away from those memories, and with "Mercy," she finds that sometimes, things just can't be forgiven; and that's okay.
The fountain of flourishing melancholy, nostalgia, and hope to bolster 'People & Places (volume 1),' shouldn't come as a surprise by now. Kathleen has been toiling up to this moment for years, and finally, through an abundance of life experience, that work has paid off with some of her most substantial music yet; highlighted by the deep well of emotion found within "Mercy."
What were the most powerful emotions you found yourself being influenced by during the recording of "Mercy." Is this a sentiment you find yourself coming back to throughout "People & Places (volume 1)"?
Man, so many emotions ran through as I made these songs. It’s been a beautiful whirlwind. I think it oddly woke me up to the fact that maybe I’m not as “over” some situations as I thought I was and that this whole writing and recording process was overly healing to me and came at the right time. I was angry writing ‘Mercy’, sad writing ‘Coast of Maine’ and ‘The Gentleman’, but confident writing ‘Better Than That’ and ‘You Never Know’... I hope any listener finds comfort in these songs, feels understood because this world can be pretty hard to understand and they are so not alone.
What was the most challenging part about releasing "Mercy" for the world to experience? Were there any reservations about making this vulnerable topic unrestricted and public?
I definitely had fears about releasing this song, yes. "Mercy" comes from such a vulnerable place for me, and I knew I wouldn’t want to do it halfway… I knew that putting my story out there would mean I’d have to talk about it again. But I’ve come to realize that shying away from something I experienced just because it's hard to talk about, is no reason not to talk about it. If I preach on truthful songwriting and raw emotions, who would I be to not encourage someone else who’s gone through this? It’s been harder than I thought to have it out in the open, I won't lie, but I also envision it being extremely freeing for me and hopefully helpful to others, as well.
How did "Mercy" first find its way into actuality with regards to production? Was "Mercy" initially a page of lyrics written out, a melody that reminded you of the past, or a combination of both?
Mercy started as a guitar melody of mine, which is super rare for me. It’s the guitar melody at the start of the song and the words “been praying for you in the dead of the night”. I remember the exact night, too because I had turned down going out with a friend and was in my little studio apartment, where I could see the lights of downtown Nashville, and I was just like “why am I not happier?” The only thing I kept doing in those times of anger towards this person, prayed for the ability to forgive him. From there, my good friend Danen and I worked on the song pretty tirelessly, as this has been a work in progress for 2 years. I’m so grateful for Danen’s talent and for his contributions to this EP in totality, but mainly for his friendship in all of this.
If you could give us a few words that would act as a prologue to the experience your listeners can come to expect from "Mercy" and the rest of the "People & Places (volume 1)" EP, what would you say and why?
My EP, 'People & Places (volume 1)', is a series of little stories about forgiveness and moving forward in the realization that all you can be is better than the day before.
I pray listeners to experience a sense of comfort knowing that they don’t have to be there yet, that some of the biggest acceptances in life take a great deal of time.
I labeled this project “People & Places” because I kept finding myself resorting to specific people I had to forgive and places I ran away to while I couldn’t. ‘Coast of Maine’ is a prime example of missing home in a time where that’s all I wanted to be… when the man I wrote ‘Mercy’ about stripped me of confidence and of worth, I just wanted to be alone by the water, by the place that made me feel calm…
We are all a work in progress, and I hope anyone listening to my music knows that that’s exactly what I am, too.
What has been keeping you inspired in 2020 and what can we expect to see next from you?
I have loved hearing that people are inspired by what I’m doing. I never thought I’d enjoy social media this much haha but it’s truly given me lots of time to connect with people online and really talk with them and to get to know them better. To hear that people are awaiting new music from me is precious and I’m not taking that for granted. Not playing any shows right now, it’s easy to forget that people are in fact, on your side and cheering you on. I plan to give those people a lot more music in 2021.