Following on from the release of his highly-acclaimed EP ‘Skully’ last year which attracted enormous praise from BBC Radio 1’s Jack Saunders and Huw Stephens, along with support from BBC Introducing, The Line of Best Fit, DIY and more, London-based artist Jack Mercer aka VC Pines is back to his smooth and soulful ways on the intoxicating new single ‘Smoke Without Fire’ produced by Jonathan Quarmby (Tom Walker/Lewis Capaldi) and mixed by Bad Sounds. Channeling the same broad and enticing neo-soul sound he has been producing, ‘Smoke Without Fire’ makes for a wonderfully warm and vibrant return. Adding a funk and brass-filled production to his rich and luxurious vocals, his newest delight showcases his new EP ‘Concrete’, which is set to arrive later this year.
Born and raised in London, Mercer is possessed with an uncanny ability to transport his listeners to completely new territory. On his new EP, ‘Concrete’, he leads you through a labyrinth of side-streets, dive bars and late-night haunts, introducing you to a whole host of characters along the way – Crooning over beats and brass that meander under street-lamps and through fog, searching for something. His latest material is a showcase for many of Mercer’s talents, not least among them his extraordinary voice. It’s one capable of filling stadiums and festival fields, as he showed with his previous band supporting the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Blondie, Patti Smith and Kings Of Leon. While still a powerhouse vocalist, he now offers yearning melodies, beautiful cadence, and a melancholy croon redolent of Grammy-winning artist Brittany Howard.
Fans will recognise Mercer’s favoured themes of romance, confusion and loneliness from 2020’s VC Pines EP, the critically lauded ‘Skully’, which included the sublime single ‘Bluebirds’. Inspired by the poem of the same name by Charles Bukowski, the song saw Mercer attempting to shake off the trappings of modern life in order to return to the best version of himself. Meanwhile ‘Cracks’, which has more than a quarter of a million streams on Spotify, dealt with the fallout from a relationship grown toxic with unspoken resentment. Concrete is an ambitious step up from that impressive debut; the latest VC Pines work is a project that lives and breathes. As Mercer puts it: “These songs are about experiences, hedonism, and the things we learn from.”