Growing up, my listening habits progressed from the evangelical subculture’s schlockiest pop to its Americana fringe to secular alt-country. One common thread: prolific sideman Phil Madeira, whose fine Hammond organ work was as ubiquitous as decision theology in the record collection of my youth. As I left that walled garden behind as a listener, Madeira was doing the same as a player. These days, he tours with Emmylou Harris.
Madeira plays the hell out of anything with keys, and he’s no slouch with frets. He’s also a producer and a songwriter, and while Mercyland features a lot of artists, it’s Madeira’s project. He’s explained that the idea grew from his frustration with narrow, exclusive faith. Madeira wanted to make a record about a God defined by love, and he asked colleagues to cowrite and record songs with him.