Phish guitarist Trey Anastasio has released his first-ever solo acoustic album, Mercy.

The acoustic collection presents the prolific songwriter in the simplest of formats: just Trey, a guitar, and a microphone. “I’ve never done anything like this before,” Anastasio confirms to David Fricke, who hosted the album’s satellite radio premiere on SiriusXM‘s Phish Radio on Thursday evening.

A spiritual “bookend” to Lonely Trip, the isolation-inspired album born of the initial COVID-19 lockdowns, Mercy checks in on the emotions explored on the 2020 record with two rollercoaster years worth of new perspective to consider.

“It’s two years since we went into hiding,” Trey notes in the album’s liner notes. “This is still going on, and it’s an even lonelier trip.”

Despite the fact that he was able to sneak in tours with various bands between spikes in cases, Anastasio largely maintained his quarantine habits while at home in New York. “Here I was, still at home, playing acoustic guitar,” he explains. “I thought, ‘These songs just want to be one guy with a guitar, singing.’”

While Mercy marks his first time releasing solo acoustic material for mass consumption, the format has been a regular tool in Anastasio’s eclectic arsenal of live projects in recent years. Often an outlet for some of his most direct interactions with his loyal fanbase—filled with stories, banter, and affable reflection—Anastasio’s acoustic shows have also let his oldest material breathe in new ways.

“I found this weird thing happening where ‘Maze’ worked on acoustic guitar,” Trey muses. “Who would have thought that? ‘It’s about the jam, the organ solo.’ Turns out it wasn’t. It was about the lyrics and the music.”

After an album’s worth of quarantine material and a run of eight livestream-only Beacon Jams at New York’s Beacon Theatre in 2020, Trey finally made his return to performing for live audiences with a run of solo acoustic shows in June of 2021. The five-show run, which included three nights at Saratoga Performing Arts Center and two nights back at the Beacon Theatre, helped re-establish the connection that had been temporarily dampened by isolation.

Related: Trey Anastasio Returns To The Beacon Theatre For Emotional Reunion With NYC Fans [Photos/Videos]

“[It] ‘was like a direct path from my heart to the audience,” Trey explains of the 2021 acoustic run. “The honesty and simplicity of those shows – without it, this album would not have happened.’”

Recorded by Trey Anastasio just weeks ago with production by Bryce Goggin and Robert “RAab” Stevenson and engineering/mixing by Mike Fahey, Mercy arrives with a sense of urgency—two years, nearly to the day, after his adopted home of New York City first began sheltering in place.

The album is comprised of nine new songs, all stylized with lower-case titles. Tracks include “a little more time”, “mercy”, “flying blind”, “blazing down the twisted wire”, “6 1/2 minutes”, “roll like a river”, and “hey stranger”.

Listen to Mercy by Trey Anastasio on the platform of your choice here or stream the acoustic album below via Spotify.

Trey Anastasio – Mercy – Full Album

Up next for Trey Anastasio is a four-night run of rescheduled shows at Madison Square Garden with Phish on April 20th, 21st, 22nd, and 23rd. For a list of his upcoming solo tour dates, head here.

 

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[Originally published 3/7/22]