Wayne Merdinger Strikes Gold, If Not Platinum, On Troubadour

By Deuce

The richness of Wayne Merdinger’s guitar—acoustic, electric, rhythm, etc.—is one of the dominant forces on his new release, Troubadour. Then again, the same thing applies to that of his vocals, particularly when they’re intertwined with those of Sophia Prater, hitting those harmonic high notes of hers.

And, to top it all off, the man’s got a bona fide, certified hit record, which is never a bad thing.

Matter fact, Merdinger might just have two hits. The grand finale, “Waiting For Love”, is a hands down, indisputable triumph in and of itself. However, one can make the case that the leadoff, “It’s Gonna Be Okay” is going in the same vein although conceptually, the two are about as distant as records can get (which may very well be why Merdinger chose them to bookend this project).

But back to “Waiting”. It begins with the rippling of at least a pair of acoustic guitars, shadows chasing shadows, bubbling about, just brimming to the surface of sound and color. It’s the sort of playing that would stand on its own without anything else. Merdinger, however, has other ideas, coming with the lyrics about the angels weeping in that sweet voice of his which is accentuated, in all the right parts, by Prater, so sonically tight that you initially wonder if that’s him or a babe backing him up.

But then he drops the drums and bass on this number, with a pocket so deep it’s almost useless to try to keep your head in place as it begins to move, all by itself. With the groove selected and the drumming of Joe Costello, Merdinger’s made that rare achievement in which he’s not only found something remarkably good, but found a way to make it even better, once the rest of the band joins him.

“Okay” is everything “Waiting” is not. The former moves crisply, at a brisk pace. In fact, John Hayden’s bass melds into it so well that the pair could have completed the tune on their own. Hayden’s efforts are that prominent and compelling, and surely would have stolen the show had Merdinger not a purity of voice that makes room for itself, no matter what sort of instrumentation is backing it.

It’s truly a treat to hear him and his band go to work on this EP.

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