Merce Lemon Shares 'Backyard Lover' Single From Highly Anticipated New Album

The album "Watch Me Drive Them Dogs Wild" will be released on September 27th.

By: Jul. 09, 2024
Merce Lemon Shares 'Backyard Lover' Single From Highly Anticipated New Album
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Pittsburgh-based artist Merce Lemon will release her highly anticipated new album Watch Me Drive Them Dogs Wild, on September 27th via Darling Recordings. Lead single “Backyard Lover” is an honest and incisive exploration of confused, raw intimacy. A warm memory gently meanders alongside warbling steel and guitars, tinged with a classic outlaw haze, before it suddenly erupts with the frustration of a broken promise. 

On the song, Merce shares “So many of my songs are touched by and explore death specifically in relation to the loss I experienced of my best friend when I was fifteen years old. That loss has forever changed me and who I am in my relationships to lovers, friends, family."

After the release of her 2020 album Moonth, Merce took a step back to reassess during an era of anxiety and lockdown – even the reliably nourishing exercise of sharing and playing music felt precarious. “I got dirty and slept outside most of the summer. I learned a lot about plants and farming, just writing for myself, and in that time I just slowly accumulated songs.” A never-ending creative hunger, supported by the community framework she’d always been able to depend on, had been newly fertilized by the wide-eyed inspiration that came from plunging her hands into both the earth’s soil and her own. Rooting around for an answer, finding and turning in her palms what had been buried there all along – from this rediscovery, imbued with the vitality of earth’s green magic, Watch Me Drive Them Dogs Wild sprouted forth. Watch the video for “Backyard Lover” below, and read the cover feature with Pittsburgh City Paper, who called the album “a full-bodied triumph that positions Lemon for a legitimate breakthrough beyond the 412."

Backyard Lover” is preceded by this year's standalone single “Will You Do Me A Kindness,” a song at once full of yearning and spite, tender yet smoldering and featuring both excellent songwriting and a skyward guitar solo. Accompanied by a Greg Freeman directed video, the song was universally acclaimed, praised by Stereogum, Pitchfork Selects, Brooklyn Vegan, and Consequence & Paste Magazine naming it one of the year’s best songs. 

A staple of local bills, Merce has performed alongside feeble little horse, Horse Jumper of Love, Squirrel Flower, Water From Your Eyes, and more. She’ll be heading to New York, Seattle, and Oklahoma City in the coming weeks. And today she is announcing a slate of dates in October supporting the album.

Tour Dates:

7/21 - Brooklyn, NY @ Elsewhere Zone One #

7/27 - Orcas Island, WA @ Dylanfest 

8/3 - Seattle, WA @ The Black Lodge ^

8/12 - Oklahoma City, OK @ Resonant Head *

9/26 - Pittsburgh, PA @ The Government Center (Vinyl Listening Party)

10/3 - Catskill, NY @ The Avalon ^

10/4 - Burlington, VT @ Radio Bean ^

10/6 - Philadelphia, PA @ Johnny Brenda's ^

10/8 - Chicago, IL @ Sleeping Village

10/18 - Pittsburgh, PA @ Bottlerocket

# w/ Wished Bone & Renny Conti 

^ w/ Greg Freeman 

* w/ Florry

Tracklist:

01 Birdseed

02 Backyard Lover

03 Window

04 Foolish and Fast

05 Rain

06 Crow

07 Slipknot

08 Blueberry Heaven

09 Watch Me Drive Them Dogs Wild

“I could not be alive alone,” a longtime family friend said to Merce with a smile. “None of us could be alive alone.”

Within the quiet, cascading corners of Pittsburgh lies a community – nothing short of one large family – that spans zip codes, histories, occupations, and generations, always tumbling into itself, propped up by steadfast pillars of conviction toward spiritual and emotional mutual aid. The kind of earnest community scaffolding that gets bandied about, wielded as conjecture, particularly in an age of increasing fracture through digital sublimation, is alive and quite well within the universe surrounding Merce Lemon.

When asked how the city has inspired her creative practice, she responds with a characteristic joke wrapped in an earthen warmth – “There are big hills, three rivers, and more bridges than anywhere in the whole world.” Growing up in a family of art and music in a city with a small, but vigorously supportive scene, Merce has been going to shows here her whole life, even playing them with the “grown up” friends of her parents – as recently as a few years ago, her band was comprised of her own father and his peers in the Pittsburgh music community.

Watch Me Drive Them Dogs Wild emerged from a time of rediscovery and reconnection with nature. The album emerges, enveloped in propulsive guitars and saccharine-sweet songs of blackbirds and blueberries, from the dead-calm center of a pastoral frenzy in a manner that one could argue as erratic, reckless — a grave misconception, as Merce is just as aware of where she’s being pulled from as she is curious about where to go next. Her sound is built upon a reverence and gratitude for the natural world, how paying respect to it charts a more confident path through the choppy waters of the heart. On the soft and confessional “Rain,” she maps memory onto the stillness of the landscape around her, panning for clarity in an endlessly blue sky: “I can see your relentlessness / in the muddy puddles where retting is / shattering the splintered stalks / where golden braids pour into drops." 

In her music, romantic and familial love rips into and out of itself, barely registering as disparate feelings in the flurry of reckoning. Lead single “Backyard Lover” is an honest and incisive exploration of this confused, raw intimacy. In it, a warm memory gently meanders alongside warbling steel and guitars, tinged with a classic outlaw haze, before it suddenly erupts with the frustration of a broken promise, making way for a cathartic sonic fury – “what dying felt like / a wooden spoon tossed in the fire / cause nothings good enough / you fing liar.“ The song’s climax deftly uncovers the formidable heartbeat hidden underneath the floorboards of her creative expulsion: loss. “So many of my songs are touched by and explore death, specifically in relation to the loss I experienced of my best friend when I was fifteen years old” says Merce. “That loss has forever changed me and who I am in my relationships to lovers, friends, family." In reconciling the quiet conflict of a desire for closeness and a solitude cultivated by distrust, there is a fierceness, a persistence in her vulnerability, matched in droves by the wildness of her band.

These songs range, often within the structure of a single track, from ballads to blown out electric riffs combating feedback, harmonies concealed behind wailing guitars, both dependent on each other as they careen towards new meaning. They build slowly, synthesizing a naturalist’s penchant for romance and nihilism to create the warring, triumphantly escalating nature of Merce’s lyrics and her band’s heavy entropy. For Merce, the only certainty is the endlessly shifting nature of a river, roaring straight past a dogwood, never missing the opportunity to watch a petal fluttering to the ground in the rear view.

They are songs of belonging just as much as they are songs of longing – ”Say I was a lonely gust of wind / could I redirect them,” she muses in “Crow”, one of the more hopeful tracks on the record. Its structure is simple, gentle acoustics pushed forward by an ever-present and fluid percussion that guides the song as naturally as Merce hopes to guide the “murderous flock,” forgoing the voyeur in all of our hearts and comfortably settling in the supportive role of a shepherd – “I’d make a city of this ghost town / even let the crows come / rest their necks / and nest their young.” 

There is an oaken strength in Watch Me Drive Them Dogs Wild that makes it easy to love –  once wild, still free, honest and familiar. Its genesis is timeless, its restlessness eternal – it is one cohesive yet unanswered question built around, and dependent upon, the life-giving force of nature that came before Merce. The album’s closing track also inspires its title – a lonely ballad of forlorn projection into an unknown future, forever protected by the comforting green of Pittsburgh’s hills, rivers, bridges, and homes:

“Old man howling / laughing his teeth out / with the dogs down the hill.

And a tree fell / I smell the wood / and the bark is coming off in sheets / I write my words down on it.

And honestly / the thoughts of a husband / weighing on me.”

Photo Credit: Justin Gordon



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