Manuel Bair is a pop/rock singer and songwriter originally from Newport, Oregon but raised in California. In 2016, he set out to relocate to the Pacific Northwest, while writing and recording music in his home studio in Sun River, Oregon. He has been working on an album, Living Proof, with veteran rock producer Deane Ogden (David Foster, Sarah McLachlan, Seal) and has released two singles, 2017’s Once I’m Gone and Your Return in 2018.
This third single, Mercy, is a pop/rock song that starts out like an acoustic indie pop ballad in the style of Ed Sheeran, James Bay and Harry Styles. Manuel has a fine voice for pop, with a warm tone and the emotive quality necessary for a ballad to sound authentic. Lyrically, it is about trying to communicate to someone how much they mean to them: “All I need is for you to stay in one place, so you will see all I’ve done to show you how you mean the world to me….” runs the understated but effective chorus.
The arrangement starts to build in the second verse but stays on course as conventional pop until the third minute, where it explodes with a sudden key change. The last ninety seconds then shows the more raw, rock side to Bair’s oeuvre, with some mellifluous lead guitar towards the end to complete a well arranged song.
Overall, Mercy shows how Manuel Bair has found the perfect middle ground between tasteful pop and rock, balancing a commercial, radio friendly sound with the passion and energy of rock music. This is the seamless fusion of genres which has been so successful for Harry Styles, and there’s no reason why Manuel Bair won’t make a similarly strong impact with this excellent single and forthcoming album.
VERDICT: 8.5 out of 10