“There is something about Laurel Knapp’s voice and acoustic guitar on her album Without Mercy that takes you away to a moment in your life where you felt serenity. Whether it was on a beach on Maui with the full moon shining down, or a grungy loft in an East Coast city with trains moaning in the distance, Knapp has a way of bottling the feeling of peaceful space and placing into it’s musical equivalent. Laurel Knapp (AKA: PRIVACY) is truly a breezy songstress in a heavy world.
PRIVACY is an appropriate name for Laurel Knapp to perform under. Her songs feel intimate, and Without Mercy is the type of album you would put on alone in your room and want a soundtrack to center yourself with. The album is very classic in its approach, with Knapp’s throaty voice harmonizing to a guitar. This is an uncomplicated album, with simple to understand lyrics sung delicately, which is a very refreshing break from the over-produced music industry’s current state. Knapp’s strumming goes from a ukulele Hawaiian sounding style, with what I can only assume is the ambient sound of a 4-track sounding like the ocean in the background, on tracks such as “Goodnight Fox” and “Passing,” to a campfire western feel on songs such as “Goodnight Canyon” and “Pining.” The distant whistle of a train can be heard on “Goodnight Fox,” and, whether intended or accidental, adds another layer of feeling that this is a moment to be shared by you, Knapp, and calming distant sounds.
It is hard to compare the music of PRIVACY to any other popular artist out there today, because she is really breaking ground in an area of music that seems to have been forgotten; naked voice and guitar. The opening track “Poem from Cummings” has the continuous playing quality of Joanna Newsom, but with acoustic guitar. The folk/blues sound that Laurel Knapp achieves with her deeper, smoky voice has parallels to Joan as Police Woman, but both approach the genre completely differently.
The music on Without Mercy defiantly has a niche for anyone’s music library; either for a glass of wine in the dark after work, or to remember a serene time in you life. This is not an album, however, that you would want to put on at a party, or when required to operate heavy machinery, and it is apparent in the music that Knapp knows that her songs are the friends you call after a night out on the town, and not the ones drunk driving you around town while singing “Genie in a Bottle” – badly. In her definiteness of purpose, Laurel Knapp has created an album with a mood of serene space, reminds us to be grateful that music can be so diverse in genre and purpose, and that sometimes stripping music down to its bones can be the freshest and most original thing to happen to music in a long time.” – Adequacy (2007)