Mercia Clayton - Average Boy
The internet is a wonderful thing - despite what the music industry big boys say, it has had a great effect on many people's listening habits. It's also given unknown artists a better chance of getting their music heard - one such artist is Mercia Clayton (and her band Retox). Earlier this year, You Said was chosen as a launch track for Peter Gabriel's OD2 music downloading service. It has also consistently made it's way to the top of a number of other online music service charts alongside more established 'big-name artists'. And, it's this track that set's the tone for her album, Average Boy.
The album consists of 15 tracks, none of which really let down the package as a whole. The title track is a strong opening to the album and sounds very much like the sort of sound you'd expect from a band such as Garbage - it's a little heavier than what's to follow, and may give a slightly false impression of what to expect. Clayton's cover of The Beatles' Come Together is also an excellent addition and captures the spirit of the Lennon/McCartney track well and I'd go as far as saying she makes the track her own.
There are a number of musical influences on the album - most of which are quite apparent, although I feel the comparisons made by some to Avril Lavigne are a little misplaced. Clayton's music is far more mature than Lavigne's teeny pop 'sk8ter' sound and I feel that Average Boy as an album has closer ties to bands such as The Corrs and Garbage - again, the title track sounds very much like something that Shirley Manson's band might have released in their heyday. Despite all of this, Mercia still manages to develop a sound of her own.
The range of music on offer is fairly wide ranging - and it doesn't tail off towards the end. I know it's a cliche, but from the heavier guitar riffs of Average Boy, through the more pop-oriented sound of You Said or Can U C Me to the funkier and more retro sound of Come Together there is something here for any fan of female singer-songwriters. There isn't anything particularly daring on offer and the album doesn't have quite the same impact as something like Liz Phair's Exile In Guyville had on it's release, but in all this is a very solid collection of tracks sung by a very talented artist.
Average Boy is a highly recommended album, and a superb debut filled with catchy tracks. In this day of over produced sounds, it's good to hear something with a little more natural and one hopes we see a lot more of Clayton in the future.
You can visit Mercia Clayton's website here - she has a number of sets lined up in venues around the South West of the UK over the coming months. We also have some links to samples of some of the tracks on the album and a promo video for You Said here.