“Rocco has his feet on the ground and his eyes to the sky,” (Daniel Lanois).
Rocco DeLuca uses a delicate falsetto, resonator guitar, and incisive, questioning lyrics to deliver his second album, ‘Mercy’. Rocco also had the help of five-time Grammy-winning producer Daniel Lanois (U2, Bob Dylan, Peter Gabriel) to draw upon.
Mercy covers vast emotional terrain, from the melancholy “Junky Valentine,” to the explosive hard rock of “Save Yourself”; the delirious title tune, featuring a guest performance by UK trio Keane, segues into “I Trust You To Kill Me,” a swaggering 21st century blues. These twists and turns build, layer upon layer, with haunted intricacy. Yet surprisingly, the album was recorded with utmost expedience and few frills.
Each day was treated as a blank canvas, centered around a simple routine. “Daniel would ride his motorbike down to Ironworks studio,” explains DeLuca. Rocco would trot out a new composition, they would powwow briefly about how best to serve the music… “and then we’d record it live. He’d mix it, and
ride his motorcycle back to his house. We did twenty songs like that, one or sometimes two per night. And that’s the record.”
DeLuca and Lanois formed their powerful bond after the producer caught a last minute performance at L.A. club Spaceland in late 2007. Following their endless touring, he and drummer Ryan Carman jumped at the chance to blow off steam, and fill an open slot on a hometown bill. “I had my DOBRO, and Ryan brought a little kick drum, and we just played all the material that I’d
been writing over the last few months.” Lanois – who, unbeknownst to DeLuca, had been listening intently from the front row – beckoned him over to the back bar, and suggested they work together. “I was deeply honored.”
DeLuca, praised by Rolling Stone for displaying “echoes of Neil Young, Robert Plant, Jeff Buckley and Pearl Jam” early in his career, came to the collaboration with all the qualities a music lover anticipates in a Lanois production: Instantly recognizable singing; a distinctive instrumental style; and an original songwriting voice. Filter magazine live review wrote,
“Walking a fine line between American revival and commercial success… You’d be hard pressed to find any other one-time VH1 staple taking stage only adorned with Dobro guitar and glass slide in hand…it wasn’t until midway through the take that the crowd remembered they were at a rock show; and that one man could provide such extremities in the most intimate of settings.”
“I went into this record with a clear idea,” he insists. He’d had three years of non-stop touring in support of his acclaimed debut, I Trust You To Kill Me, to refine his vision for his second record. “Lyrically, philosophically, and musically, I’m essentially the same person I was when I was thirteen years old,” he admits. “I still get excited and inspired by sounds, language, and people, but learning how to articulate them was something I had to work on.” “For the first time, I’ve come to document the music in my heart.”