"Mercy Now" is not an easy listen. It is challenging and intense—which, given its creator's history, only makes sense. Mary Gauthier has spent time in rehab, a halfway house and jail.

"Mercy Now" is not an easy listen. It is challenging and intense—which, given its creator's history, only makes sense. Mary Gauthier has spent time in rehab, a halfway house and jail. After running away from numerous situations, she opened a Cajun restaurant in Boston. Not one for a life of monotony, Gauthier tossed her apron out the window and wrote her first song at 35. Clean and sober, she never looked back. On "Mercy Now," her fourth album, Gauthier sings powerful tales of love lost ("Empty Spaces"), death ("Wheel Inside the Wheel"), family strife ("I Drink") and hope (the title track). Such stories suit the blues- and country-soaked musical bed just fine. With this disc, it appears that she has stopped fleeing from herself. Because of this, music enthusiasts are royally rewarded.—MP

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