Photo by Robin Laananen
Today, with the release of her mesmerizing new single and video, “Shine Your Light On Me,” Natalie Bergman opens another portal into her spiritual haven of Mercy. Out May 7th on Third Man Records, Mercy is the debut, singular and self-produced solo album from Bergman - one half of brother-sister duo Wild Belle - and across the LP she “marries psychedelia and gospel, drawing inward to fill her ghostly psalms with beauty and power” (Aquarium Drunkard). The music follows the search for hope and salvation during an otherwise hopeless period of Bergman’s life, and although she created Mercy in the wake of a horrible family tragedy, the songs deliver “a determination to face the future with strength and resolve” (The Sunday Times).
“‘Shine Your Light On Me’ is a love song. It’s a prayer. A heartbroken melody hoping for sunshine,” says Natalie Bergman. “I had the privilege of working alongside my favorite artists and musicians on this film. I built my dream set design with Hanrui Wang and we played with mirrors and shadows. Light and darkness. I wore a vintage mirror dress by Paco Rabanne; it reflects the light, and light is the inherent message behind this music. It’s tender and lonely, but it is hopeful.”
“Shine Your Light On Me” is currently Today’s Top Tune on KCRW, and you can read more about the release at BrooklynVegan.
Directed by Alan Del Rio Ortiz (Solange, Maggie Rogers) and shot by cinematographer Ben Chappell (Arctic Monkeys, King Krule), the enigmatic and enchanting visual for “Shine Your Light On Me” was filmed in 4:3 on television cameras from the 1960s. Bergman cites influence in classic television appearances from that era, specifically a 1967 performance of “Reflections” by Diana Ross & The Supremes.
While Natalie Bergman wrote, performed, recorded and mixed Mercy in almost complete solitude, “Shine Your Light On Me” includes contributions from Elsa Harris and the Larry Landfair Singers, who Bergman previously sang with at her father’s funeral. Behind the song’s sweet harmonies, soulful grooves and the urge for Jesus to bring her out of the shadows of sorrow, Natalie Bergman reveals some of the devastating origins that brought her to Mercy. Lyrics like “I have gone astray, I’ve been lost in the desert” allude to the Chama Valley monastery where she spent weeks in silence following the loss of her father and stepmother, who were killed by a drunk driver in 2019, the same night she and her brother were supposed to play Radio City Music Hall as Wild Belle. But instead of escaping into darkness and dread, her time in the desert inspired her path to Mercy, where she channels the music and faith that have guided her family forever.
Watch the video for Mercy opener “Talk To The Lord,” featuring the beautiful towers, kites and flags that Bergman made by hand, inspired by the banners her mother used to make for their church:
See why Natalie Bergman is being hailed as “heavenly” (Refinery29), “transcendent” (MOJO) and “engrossing” (CLASH) in a live performance of “I Will Praise You,” a yet to be released highlight of Mercy.
Mercy marks the first newly recorded gospel album from Third Man Records; pre-order it here.
Photos by Robin Laananen
Mercy Cover Art