Record Review: Tender Mercy — ‘War Within’

For more than a decade, singer-songwriter Mark Kramer has crafted some of the most painfully bleak music out there. Kramer is a master of storytelling with the sparsest arrangements, often only individually plucked notes and his quivering voice. That steadfast commitment is perhaps best realized on War Within, a work that operates on the tension that the space between notes creates. The album features guitar and voice only, as Kramer fills the void with a copious amount of reverb, smearing everything into an ambient blur. The title track expands on introspection as a means of looking outward, to learn the best truth about yourself that you can. —Syd Bishop