From the drumbeat and horns that kick off the opening track, Bryan Duncan gives us an introduction to not only the first song and the vibe of the album, but also the sound that marked his career–groove.
Mercy was Bryan’s standout album. It blended everything that his music embodied–strong vocals, energy, honesty, humor, and the ever-important aforementioned groove. Here, Mercy also set the production standard for what would come, though his following albums tended to be a bit mellower.
Mercy starts with three back-to-back upbeat radio-friendly openers: “Mercy Me,” “Step by Step” and “Into my Heart;” then onto two heartfelt back-to-back ballads, “You Don’t Leave Me Lonely” and “When it Comes to Love.”
Bryan starts Side 2 in much the same way he started Side 1, with a drumbeat kicking off the grooving opener, “Looks A Lot Like Me” which features his impressive ivory-tickling instrumental break. One of his most successful radio hits, “Love Takes Time” (also the title of his 1999 greatest-hits album) follows next. That, and the following two songs, “Faithful to You” and “I’ll Not Forget You,” are each a strong blend of catchy mid-tempo music with honest and passionate lyrics. The album’s closer, the peppy “Five Smooth Stones,” features a duet with Crystal Lewis and leaves us finishing the album wanting more.
While I had only heard a few songs from Bryan on the radio prior to this, and liked what I heard, this was the first of his albums that I had heard in its entirety, and made me a lifelong fan.