John Cale has drafted indie stalwarts Weyes Blood, Animal Collective, Sylan Esso and Tei Shi to guest on his new album, Mercy, which will be released Jan. 20 on Double Six/Domino. It’s the first album of new material from the former Velvet Underground member, who turned 80 in March, since 2012’s Shifty Adventures in Nookie Wood.
First single “Story of Blood” features Weyes Blood and is accompanied by a Jethro Waters-directed video. “I’d been listening to Weyes Blood’s latest record and remembered Natalie [Mering]’s puritanical vocals,” Cale says. “I thought if I could get her to come and sing with me on the ‘Swing your soul’ section, and a few other harmonies, it would be beautiful. What I got from her was something else! Once I understood the versatility in her voice, it was as if I’d written the song with her in mind all along. Her range and fearless approach to tonality was an unexpected surprise. There’s even a little passage in there where she’s a dead-ringer for Nico.”
Elsewhere, Animal Collective joins in on “Everlasting Days,” while Sylvan Esso appears on “Time Stands Still” and Tei Shi guests on “I Know You’re Happy.” Mercy will be available in an exclusive version through Domino Mart as a transparent blue double vinyl with a bonus 7″ single featuring two exclusive tracks. One of them is an alternate version of the title track featuring late Fela Kuti drummer Tony Allen, who died in 2020.
Cale begins a short U.K. tour Sunday (Oct. 23) in Edinburgh. An Oct. 28 show in his home territory of Wales will serve as a belated 80th birthday celebration with appearances by Sinfonia Cymru, House Gospel Choir, Super Furry Animals frontman Gruff Rhys, previous Cale collaborator Cate Le Bon and Manic Street Preachers frontman James Dean Bradfield.
Here is the track list for Mercy:
“Mercy” featuring Laurel Halo
“Marilyn Monroe’s Legs (Beauty Elsewhere)” featuring Actress
“Noise of You”
“Story of Blood” featuring Weyes Blood
“Time Stands Still” featuring Sylvan Esso
“Moonstruck (Nico’s Song)”
“Everlasting Days” featuring Animal Collective
“Not the End of the World”
“The Legal Status of Ice” featuring Fat White Family
“I Know You’re Happy” featuring Tei Shi
“Out Your Window”