‘Casey’ – Finding Beauty In Tragedy | Krazed Music
As an editor of this online magazine, I receive a number of musical submissions to my email inbox every day. I always do my best to check every single one out, and am frequently struck by the range of approaches that people take to try and get my attention. Some follow tried and trusted systems that obviously came straight from a Wiki how-to guide, while others appear to put in virtually no effort at all; as if simply sending a link in an email is enough to inspire a magazine to publish a post about a musician they’ve never heard of. This morning, I awoke to an email from a musician named Tim Mercer which immediately carried an aura of individuality. In the message, Tim spoke of “a time when mainstream music lacks integrity,”, going on to say his album ‘Casey‘ is “both heartbreak and hope in a musical age where people are starving for authenticity“. This immediately caught my attention; a well-articulated expression of both my common complaint about the modern music industry, and what I always look for in a new musical release. So, naturally, I was intrigued.
I went on to begin watching the short, 6 minute documentary that accompanied the email, with the hope of gaining an introduction and some insight into the nature of Tim’s music. What I found was a deeply moving story about the part of Tim’s life that inspired this project, and a revealing look at just how intensely meaningful it is to the musician himself. In short, ‘Casey‘ is a musical tribute to, and conversation with, Tim Mercer’s late wife, whom he loves with every fiber of his being. Their whirlwind romance was one of profound happiness that was tragically cut short when Casey was involved in a car accident, leaving her in a coma from which she would never wake up. This heartbreaking story took place in 2011, so the fact that this album is being released 5 years later goes some way in telling us how deeply the artist was affected.
Through testimony from his family and friends, the ‘Casey‘ documentary sheds some light on the anguish Tim experienced upon losing his wife, and the amount of time it took for him to begin feeling alive again. Through music, he was able to pull himself back from the brink and channel the pain of his loss to create something beautiful, forming new hope for the remainder of his life and beyond. At least, this is what I took from my brief glimpse into the world of this tragic situation. It had a profound impact on me before I even went on to listen to the music. Here was this chance meeting of two ordinary people who fell instantly for one another, and proceeded into a fairy-tale romance that culminated in a blissful marriage which was so tragically cut short. And what remains is this stricken survivor, unable to let go of the presence of his departed wife, creating a musical dedication to a bittersweet love story that carries such integrity in light of its real-life source. It is the stuff of the most affecting of romantic melodramas, made infinitely more powerful by the reality of its story.
As I listen to the album itself, I feel consistently moved by the prominence of Tim’s feeling that he is speaking directly to Casey, interspersed by painful realizations that she is no longer here. The songwriting is sublime, filled with poetry and a surprising diversity that defies the myopic thematic focus. Songs like ‘Infrared Body‘ and ‘5 Saints In The World‘ dwell upon the agony of watching Casey lie in her coma, hoping against hope that she might wake up at any moment. ‘Free Fall For Life‘ tells some of the charming story of how the couple first met, and the depth of the connection that continues even all these years after her passing. ‘Silhouettes‘ is one of the more somber pieces, wherein Tim reflects on how it feels to be so forcibly separated from the love of his life, always underscored (perhaps unintentionally) by a subtle fear that there will never be a reunion. This fear becomes most prominent in the heart-wrenching ‘7 Degrees‘, as we are carried through the pain of realizing that this beautiful woman, who is the light of Tim’s life, might never wake up from the sleep that has been cast upon her.
The album culminates in 3 songs that outline the way Tim has survived his loss. Although the final thought he presents to us in ‘Afterlife‘ is a somewhat hopeful one – looking forward to being reunited with Casey – as a listener I can’t help but feel this is the most tragic element of the story. Casey had her life taken from her, but Tim has to continue living with the void left by her absence. His brother, fighting back the tears, says
“I’m aware that he’s holding on so much to her, that he’ll never give himself the chance to love and be loved again.”
I don’t know Tim Mercer, but through this music I’m left feeling that a man who has so much to give has been broken by something that the world inflicted on him. And, although the music that has come out of it is beautiful, the world has lost a little of its light with the departure of Casey, and the shattering of her husband in its wake.
This realization defies my preconceptions about this album. I expected a selection of songs that pay tribute to a deceased loved one; that the album would be about Casey. But, in truth, this album is all about Tim: how in love he still is with the woman he lost; how raw the wounds are that were inflicted upon him; how his entire reality remains tethered to Casey’s lingering presence. The cynical listener might criticize the album as an attempt to profit from something that caused so much suffering, but this point of view is ridiculous. This music serves as the purest of personal expression one can deliver through the art form, and a fitting tribute to a love that has a truly palpable presence in every iota of the project’s work.
In the era of Ed Sheeran, we are somewhat swamped with acoustic singer-songwriters that tend to produce equal parts tears and yawns among the audience. Tim’s roots as a musician are in slightly harder rock music, so in ‘Casey‘ we receive a greater diversity of sounds than you might imagine. With the likes of powerhouse producer PJ Bianco (Florence and the Machine, LP, Demi Lovato, Nick Jonas) taking the helm, and talented guitarist Pete Risano on hand, the album does more than just express sadness through somber tones and melancholic compositions. Songs like ‘Wish Wish Bang Bang‘ and ‘Get On Up‘ really raise the tempo and feel of the album, without betraying the tributary purpose behind them. With exquisite lyricism in every heartfelt word of the album, Tim Mercer has poured his heart and soul into a project that will mean as much to many of its listeners as it does to him.
After listening to the album, having taken a dip into the story behind it, I am left feeling extremely moved. Never before have I been given such a sense of the powerlessness of bereavement from music.
“All roads lead here. Please, dear, please know I’m sorry, so sorry but I won’t be waking up today“.
Whether Casey is speaking through Tim, or Tim’s own subconscious gives voice to the part of her that lives inside him, the emotion is powerful: Tim pleaded with everything he had for his wife to wake from that coma, but she couldn’t find her way back to him. Individual songs within the album can be enjoyed on their own merit, but don’t compare to the profound experience of listening to the album as a whole. ‘Casey‘ is an artistic achievement that you will rarely find in this lifetime, and I urge you to experience it for yourself. Her presence is there to be felt in this dedication to a true love story of dizzying highs and agonizing lows, and the lingering feeling is one of deep sadness for the artist. Thank you, Tim Mercer, for this experience, and we hope that you are able to find real happiness once again in life.
At this time, there is no set date for the album’s release, but it is due to arrive on iTunes in the Summer of 2016. If you want a taste of the music, you can either visit the Tim Mercer Soundcloud page, or get 2015’s EP from iTunes here: Casey – EP – Tim Mercer
The forthcoming album is an extension of 2015’s EP, and will do greater justice to the theme that is its soul and essence. As soon as a release date is confirmed, you’ll find it right here. Until then, check out Tim’s official website and watch the documentary linked earlier in this article to get a real sense of the power of this music. Enjoy!
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