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Album Review: Gathering Mercury
Colin Hay
Cover image of the album Gathering Mercury by Colin Hay
Gathering Mercury
Colin Hay
2011 / Lazy Eye Music
55 minutes
Review by Michael Debbage
For many of you the name Colin Hay may not ring any bells but the voice certainly will. A founding member of the popular 80’s band Men At Work, Hay also composed several smash hits, the three most famous being “Overkill”, “Down Under” and “Who Can It Be Now?” Though Men At Work have not recorded any new studio recordings since 1986, Colin Hay has been very busy making his own music with over ten solo recordings to his name. His most recent creation Gathering Mercury continues in the singer-songwriter mold that has made his solo career credible and memorable.

While Men At Work was always an enthusiastic and upbeat band, for the most part Hay’s solo profile has utilized a more retrospective approach. After two viable commercial efforts that attempted to carry on the Men At Work flag in the form of Looking For Jack and Wayfaring Sons, Hay founded his own recording label Lazy Eye Records and released the more stripped down Topanga in the early 90’s. Featuring the brilliant “I Haven’t Seen You In A Long Time”, Hay began his transformation from a singer in a band to one of music’s most overlooked storytellers. Other comparable outstanding results can be discovered on his compositions “My Brilliant Feat”, “Beautiful World”, “Waiting For My Real Life To Begin” and “No Time” just to name a few.

Hay’s capability as a “narrator” in his lyrical content continues to remain true with his straightforward but sublime opening track of Gathering Mercury courtesy of “Send Somebody”. Similar musical results can be found on the title track as well as the optimistic “Far From Home” that has a terrific off beat reggae undertone to it. For deeper lyrical reflection look for the folksier “Dear Father” as Hay reflects on the recent passing of his father. The folk persuasion is revisited courtesy of Hay’s mandolin performance on “A Simple Song” who then closes out his album with the elegant instrumental “Goodnight Romeo” featuring him on acoustic guitar and harmonium which radiates in its effortlessness.

It remains to be seen whether or not Colin Hay the solo artist will become more fortuitous than Colin Hay the lead singer of Men At Work. But selling records is not the measure of an artist’s success but rather the creative legacy that they may leave behind. That said, the legacy is already impressive with Gathering Mercury being his most complete effort to date since 2002’s Company Of Strangers.
September 9, 2011
More reviews of Colin Hay albums
Cover image of the album Next Year People by Colin Hay
Review by Michael Debbage