Review: Mark Erelli Shares an Illuminating Offering

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

Mark Erelli/Lay Your Darkness Down /Soundly Music
Four Out of Five Stars

One of the real tragedies that beset the music business is the fact that some truly capable artists seem confined to reside well below the radar. Take for example Mark Erelli. With no less than 18 albums to his credit—all of superb quality—it’s long past time he received the recognition he so decidedly deserves. 

If justice is served, his new effort, Lay Your Darkness Down, will finally be the album to garner him that belated acclaim. It’s an excellent offering by any measure, informed as always by the intelligence, instincts, and emotions that have served him so well in the past. For those familiar with his previous offerings, that won’t come as any surprise. But for those that have yet to acquaint themselves with his work, it’s an excellent place to begin. 

On the other hand, this is a special record for other reasons as well. In an era where pessimism seems to prevail, it’s a reminder that optimism is still worth preserving and ought not be forsaken even if it sometimes seems as if there’s no reason left to persevere. 

Several songs reinforce that reasoning, with “Break in the Clouds,” “Fuel for the Fire,” “Sense of Wonder,” and the album’s most beautiful ballad “You’re Gonna Wanna Remember This” echoing the more serene sentiments Erelli has to offer.  They offer the hope that’s especially essential to embrace, especially during times when troubles and travails seem to multiply on a daily basis. Erelli goes on to summon that strength in the album’s two sturdiest songs, “Up Against the Night” and “Is It Enough,” affirmative anthems that share triumph and tenacity in equal measure. So too, the reassurance that resides in the quietly assertive “The Man I Am,” the emotional embrace that resonates through “Love Wins in the Long Run” and the quietly compelling title track all help to further affirm that positive perspective.

With Lay Your Darkness Down, Erelli shines a light on precepts and possibilities well worth considering. In so doing, he’s made an album that shores up the strength that’s needed to be sustained.

Photo by Terry Wyatt/Getty Images for Americana Music Association

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