Mearlan’s debut record, the five song Hither & Yon is full of twang and swoon that alt country acoustic singer/songwriters are so darn fond of. However it is very powerful. It’s in Mearlan’s vocals and the way he powerfully delivers lines as though he is talking to himself. By this I mean I didn’t get the sense that Mearlan was trying to show off or try to do anything to stand out or gather attention beyond the means of just playing well crafted songs with lyrics that are heartfelt and deal with metaphors that are relatable to the common man, such as love and loss, and just the everyday pain of being a human being.
The opening track, “Miss Sunshine Mountain” is a slow and wandering acoustic ballad on which Mearlan takes his time, musically, almost sounding as though he is still working out the song that he is playing. There is an immediacy to the way the song moves along and it has a very moving and powerful effect. On the beautiful and violin-driven “Vincent” Mearlan’s word play cleverly tunes in the listener that the song is about van Gogh, as he sings lines like, “A company of madmen / Sharing visions in tattered cafés / coffee and mad drink give fuel to our dreams.” He is good at rendering deep scenes of pain as he does on the heartfelt closer, “Shut the Door” as he laments, “A house is not a home if lonely comes to stay / it’s just another place to settle in or move away from.”
Hither & Yon is an album of introspection and deep seeded feelings, but it never comes off as being a “woe is me” kind of record. These are honest songs by an honest man which is sadly not really found a lot nowadays. So if you’ve found yourself wondering if there’s still music being made in the grand ole tradition, look no further.