As with many musicians, Mercy John’s music has been heavily influenced by the place in which he grew up. Both his childhood experiences and his countryside roots have made him the person he is today. Unsurprisingly, there are local flavors that can be identified within the body of his work. However, despite his Dutch roots, many of Mercy John’s songs also contain elements that are reminiscent of the works of Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen, and Ryan Adams. So how is it that the music of Mercy John has been influenced by these big names?
In addition to writing lyrics in his hometown on the outskirts of a small village, Mercy John has spent some time writing songs in Nashville, Tennessee. ‘Maybe the place where I grew up is good soil for Dutch Americana’, says John, born on the day that The Netherlands was hit by the toughest blizzard in the history of the country. Having been raised in the middle of the Dutch no-man’s-land, he gives a glimpse of his formative years: ‘My entire childhood I watched out over the fields and played in the woods nearby. I was raised, rather protected, far from the big world outside. With a lot of time and space to play music, by the age of twelve, I was already rehearsing with a band in one of the barns on our property.’
The remote and protected environment of Mercy John’s childhood experiences instilled within him a sense of wanderlust – a dream of engaging with the unknown and unfamiliar, a yearning for adventure in the world beyond his immediate horizon. Yet now that he is older, he has come to realize that home is where the heart is, and that the world is perhaps too complex to ever fully comprehend.
On his new album ‘This Ain’t New York’, released by Butler Records in February 2017, Mercy John describes his world of fears, sadness, happiness, and love. Mercy John recorded the album with his band and producer Gabriël Peeters in Uncle Gabe’s Sound Studio. In the first week after the album was released ‘This Ain’t New York’ has collected some really great reviews and was selected as CD Of The Week on Dutch national radio NPO Radio 1.
His first album, Five More Days & A Matter of Somewhere (released as John Henry) received positive reviews and was applauded by critics within the genre. Willem Jongeneelen (BN De-stem, OOR) called it ‘A heck of an Americana album from Dutch soil’. Following the release of this album, Mercy John played several venues across The Netherlands. Highlights from the album were aired on Radio 1, Radio 2, and 3FM.