Tender Mercy dives into darkness on new album, ‘War Within’

Under the moniker Tender Mercy, singer-songwriter Mark Kramer crafts works of minimalism that make the negative space between notes as important as what’s being played. With his latest album, War Within — which was released on Oct. 17 — Kramer delves deep into his dark side, creating a bleak, yet beautiful, ambient landscape plumbed from the depths of his soul.

LEO: Who are the themes on War Within directed toward?
Mark Kramer: I think I’m just speaking to everybody. Anybody listening. Especially the second to last line [in the title track], ‘You’re not going to win the war within.’ It’s my favorite line, but I don’t know if that’s true or not. The war within being the inner struggle — emotional or mental. I don’t know why, but [I wrote] ‘You’re not going to win,’ I guess just to be darker than dark. But I liked how it sounds, so I left it. And some people do win and some people don’t.

Why is defeat the outcome?
Because I think that’s where my brain always goes. I don’t have, like, a super great sense of self-worth or ‘Oh, I can do this.’ I’m not super confident. That’s totally why my brain went there. Like, ‘Oh man, nothing else has worked out, and this isn’t going to work out either.’

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Talk about ‘I’m Being Followed,’ which features a bleak ending?
I think ‘I’m Being Followed’ is more about subtlety, and I didn’t come out and say it, because it’s boring to come right out and say things. But it’s more about a person, a female, being followed. The second part is about a car parked down the block, and the car is moving towards you. There is a car parked down the block. The headlights aren’t on, but they are moving towards you. This person is stalking you. That’s just overall a males-preying-on-females-type theme. I didn’t really know how to come right out and say it. I don’t like to just come out and say it. I like for things to be subtle.

Tender Mercy’s latest album, War Within, is available on Bandcamp, Spotify and iTunes.

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